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Be cautious about West Nile

By Diane Brown / Facilities and Operations

While the chances of contracting West Nile virus are small, community health professionals and pest management experts say people should continue to be cautious with their outdoor activities.

“We’re urging people at U-M to follow the suggestions of the Michigan Department of Community Health,” says Dale Hodgson, U-M’s pest management specialist. “These include avoiding the outdoors in the morning and evening, when mosquitoes are active; wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants outside; and applying an insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin.”

Many recent news headlines have warned people about the spread of the West Nile virus into Michigan. Health officials have confirmed dead crows found in several southeast Michigan communities tested positive for the virus, which is spread by mosquitoes that feed on infected birds and then bite people.

Community health professionals note that the chances anyone will become severely ill from one mosquito bite are extremely small. Even in areas where mosquitoes do carry the virus, fewer than 1 percent of the mosquitoes are infected, and fewer than 1 percent of people who are bitten and become infected with the virus will develop severe illness. It cannot be spread person-to-person or bird-to-person.

Pest management staff members are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling Plant Operations Services at (734) 647-2059. They can retrieve any dead crows found on campus and will report them to the Washtenaw County Health Department’s Communicable Disease Program.

Homeowners can contact the Michigan Department of Community Health West Nile virus Hotline at (888) 668-0869 if they encounter dead crows on

personal property.

Additional information regarding the symptoms of infection, disease monitoring and treatment can be found on Web sites for the University Health Service at, the Washtenaw County Health Department at and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at

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