West Nile deaths spreading concern



Mosquito experts both locally and in Lansing say it's too soon to tell if the frequency of West Nile Virus in 2011 will be different than in 2010 but the deaths in August are alarming.


Ken Wurfel is a self-proclaimed mosquito guy. He knows just about anything you'd need to know about the pest. "Seven days of standing water means mosquitos," he says at one of his clients' wooded homes near St. Joseph MI.


Wurfel is the owner of Mosquito Squad, a Southwest Michigan business that opened in April.

They spray to kill mosquitos. Since they opened they average 15 to 20 house-sprays a day.


Recently some of Wurfel's new business comes from fear. He says, "There's a big concern now. Someone has actually died again in our area from a mosquito bite. People are really concerned."


According to the Michigan State Department of Community Health, there's reason for concern. Two positive West Nile pools have been identified in Saginaw and Bay counties in Michigan. A Macomb County man died on August 17th and right in Goshen a woman died August 24th.


What about testing in Southwest Michigan? 


It turns out the Berrien County Health Department does not test.  


"Right now there's nothing with the Health Department actively (testing)," says Ken Priest with Environmental Branch of the Berrien County Health Department. 


Priest says they just assume it's here. "It's out there and it's not going to leave us, it's just part of our life here in Southwest Michigan.


It's a safe assumption according to Dean Sienko, Interim Chief Medical Executive with Michigan's Department of Community Health. He says many Michigan State University does a number of tests around the state but many county organizations do not test. "We believe there's likely to be West Nile actively anywhere in the state."


The state says the danger isn't as widespread as the virus. Only 1 in 150 people who have contracted West Nile actually get severely sick from it. Fewer die.



Wurfel and his clients don't take their chances. "When (mosquitos) land on something we've sprayed, they die."


They eliminate the problem.


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