State health officials warn that as the weather warms and people begin to spend more time outdoors, it is important to take precautions against mosquito and tick bites.

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is reminding Michiganders, especially those spending time outdoors and children at camps, to protect themselves from mosquito or tickborne diseases.

Last year, West Nile Virus was responsible for 36 illnesses and 2 fatalities reported in Michigan.

Seasonal activity varies from year to year, but mosquitoes in Michigan can carry illnesses such as West Nile virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), and ticks can carry illnesses such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.   Mosquito and tick-borne diseases can cause mild symptoms, severe infections requiring hospitalization, and even death.
Adults who are 50 and older have the highest risk of illness caused by West Nile Virus. In addition to presenting a greater risk for older people, EEE is more likely to cause illness in children 15 years of age or younger.

People in outdoor occupations such as construction and landscaping are at increased risk of getting bitten, but the mosquito that carries WNV likes to get indoors as well.   You can protect against mosquito bites by remembering to:

  • -Avoid mosquito bites: Use insect repellent when outdoors especially from dusk to dawn. Look for EPA-labeled products containing active ingredients, such as DEET, Picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Reapply as needed according to label directions. Use nets or fans around outdoor eating areas to keep mosquitoes away.
  • -Mosquito-proof homes: Fix or install window and door screens and cover or eliminate empty containers with standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs.
  • -Help your community: Report dead birds to Michigan’s Emerging Diseases website