Tag Archives: County

West Nile.

Indiana’s health officials warn of West Nile virus spotted in mosquitoes in Elkhart, Carroll County

Indiana state officials urge locals in Elkhart and Carroll County to take precautions after mosquitoes in the area tested positive for the West Nile virus.

West Nile.

West Nile Virus.
Image via Cynthia Goldsmith (CDC) / Public Domain.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus known to be present in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East — and, since 1999, the Americas as well. It’s quite a nasty bug. The milder form of the illness,  West Nile fever, can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands, or a rash. More severe forms of the disease affect the nervous system and include inflammation in the brain and spinal cord (encephalitis), meningitis (inflammation of the tissues that wrap around the brain and spinal cord), muscle paralysis, even death.

It generally likes to infect wild birds. Mosquitoes bite infected birds and transmit the virus over to humans. In the US, it was first identified in wild birds in Indiana in 2001; up to now, it has been found in “most states along the eastern coast and east of the Mississippi River,” according to the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH).

As of June 27, the ISDH released a warning to locals in Elkhart and Carroll County (link goes to the ISDH’s live monitoring of the virus) that the virus has been detected in mosquitoes in the area. State Health Commissioner Kris Box adds that there is no need to panic. No human cases have been detected as of now, and it’s actually not that uncommon for West Nile to be spotted around these parts — it happens every year. The ISDH expects to continue to see increased West Nile activity throughout the state as the mosquito season progresses.

State officials urge residents to take precautions — especially since the risk of infection is highest during the summer months. Some of the ways you can protect yourself from infection with the virus include:

  • Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are active, especially late afternoon, dusk to dawn and early morning.
  • Apply an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol to clothes and exposed skin.
  • Cover exposed skin by wearing a hat, long sleeves, and long pants in places where mosquitoes are especially active, such as wooded areas.
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home.

Residents should also take the following steps to eliminate potential mosquito breeding grounds:

  • Discard old tires, tin cans, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water.
  • Repair failing septic systems.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors.
  • Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed.
  • Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains.
  • Frequently replace the water in pet bowls.
  • Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically.
  • Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish.
Deer CWD.

The first case of chronic wasting disease suspected in Jackson County

A doe carcass may be evidence of Jackson County’s first case of chronic wasting disease.

Doe.

A healthy doe.
Image via Maxpixel.

State officials report that a 3-year-old doe in Jackson Country is suspected to have died from chronic wasting disease, a condition that creates the so-called “zombie deer”. If confirmed, this would be the first recorded case of the disease in the county.

Deerly departed

A press release from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that landowners in Spring Arbor Township contacted the agency earlier this month about a deer that died on their property. The deer looked ill, they said. DNR staff arrived at the location and examined the deer to determine the cause of its death. As part of the procedure, they sent three tissue samples to the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

Initial tests came out positive for the disease. The samples have since been forwarded to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) for confirmation. The DNR is currently waiting for the results. If confirmed, this will be the first recorded case of chronic waste disease in Jackson County.

“We are committed to maintaining healthy Michigan wildlife for current and future generations,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “One of our chief goals is to slow the spread of chronic wasting disease to other areas of the state.”

“That’s why we’ve taken strategic action, in partnership with local communities, hunters and others, to best address CWD in Michigan’s deer population.”

Chronic waste disease is very similar to the mad cow disease. It’s an incurable, fatal neurological condition that afflicts white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), mule deer (O. hemionus), elk (Cervus canadensis) and moose (Alces alces). During its early stages, the disease isn’t even outwardly evident — infected deer look just as perky as their healthy counterparts. Its later stages, however, are quite horrific; animals in these stages have been described as ‘zombies’, being sickishly thin, unalert, and unafraid of humans.

Deer CWD.

Deer showing obvious signs of chronic wasting disease.
Image credits Terry Kreeger / Wyoming Game and Fish and Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance.

Over 31,000 deer have been tested for the disease since May of 2015. Chronic wasting disease already has been confirmed in Clinton, Ingham, Ionia, Kent and Montcalm counties. If the NVSL confirms that we are looking at a case of chronic waste disease, this would mark the 58th recorded case in Michigan.

Although the case is not yet confirmed, deer farms in the area have already been notified to take extra precautions.

Alarmed by this possible spread of the disease, the DNR is asking for help from hunters and the wider public. If you see any deer that’s unusually thin and lethargic, with drooping ears and head, report the sighting to your local wildlife office or via this online form. Animals that are exhibiting unusual behavior — most notably those that act tame around people and let humans approach them — should also be reported.