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Michigan sees first mosquito-borne virus of 2024

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(CBS DETROIT) - Michigan health officials are urging residents to take precautions against mosquito bites after mosquitoes collected in Saginaw County tested positive for the Jamestown Canyon virus (JCV). 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the mosquitoes were collected on May 22. They are the first infected mosquitoes detected in Michigan in 2024. 

Health officials say symptoms can develop within a few days to two weeks following a bite, and that while most people have no symptoms, the initial symptoms include fever, headache and fatigue. In rare cases, JVC can cause severe diseases in the brain and/or spinal cord, like encephalitis and meningitis.

"It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause a severe illness," said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive, in a statement. "We urge Michiganders to take precautions such as using an EPA-registered insect repellent when outdoors, avoiding areas where mosquitoes are present if possible and wearing clothing to cover arms and legs to prevent bites."

Officials say the warm, wet spring that Michigan experienced this year helped produce several types of biting mosquitoes. MDHHS says most of these mosquitoes hatched in early May and are in "tracts of woodland habitat." 

While no Michigander has tested positive for any mosquito-borne virus in 2024, 11 people have been infected with JVC since 2021, and 21 cases of West Nile virus were reported last year. 

How to prevent mosquito bites 

Michigan health officials recommend the following steps to avoid a mosquito-borne disease:

  • Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET or other EPA-approved products to exposed skin or clothing. Always follow the manufacturer's directions for use.
  • Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.
  • Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Empty water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires and other water-holding containers where mosquitoes can lay eggs.
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