GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Health officials say an elderly Kent County woman has died of complications from the West Nile virus.
It’s the second West Nile death in the county this year. The first was reported in late August.
The Kent County Health Department said Wednesday that there have been 13 suspected or confirmed cases of the virus in the county this year.
West Nile is spread through mosquito bites, and the peak season for it is late summer and early fall. Kent County health officials say the threat of West Nile will remain until consistently cold weather kills mosquitoes.
“It can take two or three good frosts to get rid of all of the mosquitoes,” Adam London, Administrative Health Officer at the Kent County Health Department, said in a release. “We want to ensure that people don’t put their guard down and continue to follow precautions until then.”
To prevent catching the virus, you should take measures to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. You should apply insect repellent containing DEET and avoid being outside during the dawn and dusk hours when mosquito activity is highest.
Only about 20 percent of those who get infected with West Nile will notice any symptoms. Symptoms include headache, body aches, joint pains and fatigue. Most people fully recover, but for some, it can develop into a severe illness that affects the central nervous system.
More information on West Nile is available is available on the state’s website.