GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kent County Health Department is reporting two more Kent County zip codes where mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, KCHD said the virus was found in testing samples of mosquitoes in the 49506 and 49316 zip codes.
The health department says detection of the virus this year is happening earlier than normal.
“Usually we get positive mosquitoes pools in late July into early August. However this year, it’s a lot different. We got our first positive pool actually the end of June. And the reason is it’s been such a hot and dry summer,” Brendan Earl, the supervising sanitarian for the health department, told News 8 Wednesday.
He explained the species of mosquito that carries West Nile generally breeds in urban stormwater catch basins. Without rain to wash those basins out, there are more mosquitoes and earlier identification of West Nile.
“We are pretty concerned about the prevalence of West Nile virus,” Earl said. “Especially getting positive pools this early, it shows us this is going to be a very bad year not only for mosquitoes but for the spread of West Nile virus.”
So far, no human cases have been reported in the county. Earl said health officials were working to make sure everyone knew what to do to prevent mosquito bites and keep it that way:
- Apply mosquito repellent containing at least 35% DEET.
- Remove or refresh standing water from your property, where possible.
- Wear light-colored clothes.
- Stay indoors after dusk.
- Keep lawns and shrubs trimmed.
- Check window screens for holes.
While most people infected with the virus notice no symptoms, about 20% experience body aches and headaches, fatigue and joint pain. More seriously, 1% will develop encephalitis or meningitis.
For more details on West Nile virus or other mosquito-related viruses, visit the Kent County Health Department’s website at https://www.accesskent.com.
The good news, Earl said, is that the species of mosquito that carries Eastern Equine Encephalitis, which has a high fatality rate and killed six people in southwest Michigan last year, breed in bogs, so a hot, dry summer is not as favorable to their reproduction.
“We’re hoping the levels of EEE are down this year because the bogs are dried out, there’s less breeding habitat for that,” he said.