KENT COUNTY, Mich. - According to the Kent County Health Department (KCHD), mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus have been discovered in Kent County.

The mosquitoes were discovered in five zip codes: 49504, 49505, 49507, 49519 and 49525. KCHD said these are the only positive tests so far in 2019, but they should "serve as a reminder to all who live in West Michigan that West Nile virus season is upon us and will remain until after the first frost."

KCHD says there are no human cases reported at this time and the results come from tests of pools of mosquitoes.

"Give our experience, we fully expect to find West Nile virus every year through our surveillance," said Dr. Adam London, administrative health officer at KCHD. "We then share this information with the community so people can make more informed decision about mosquito control."

West Nile virus is spread primarily by infected Culex mosquitoes. Only about 20% of people infected will notice symptoms that include headache, body ache, joint pains and fatigue. Most people with this type of West Nile virus will completely recover.

It's rare for people who are infected to develop severe illness that can affect the central nervous system. Recovery from this type of West Nile virus may take several months and some damage to the central nervous system can be permanent.

KCHD is also aware that Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) has been detected recently in southwest Michigan, and it's possible that it exists in Kent County as well. EEE is also spread through mosquitoes and is a potentially serious disease that can affect anyone. 

EEE is primarily found in areas with swamps and bogs. The risk of bites from infected mosquitoes is highest for people who work or play outdoors in these areas.

Precautions for both diseases include wearing mosquito repellant that contains 10% to 35% DEET, wearing light-colored clothing and staying indoors during dusk.

For more information about West Nile virus, click here.

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