West Nile Virus Infection Identified in Two People in Ottawa County


September 21, 2023 | For Immediate Release

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West Nile Virus Infection Identified in Two People in Ottawa County

Department of Public Health Encourages Precautions to Avoid Mosquito Bites

The Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) is alerting the public that two people in Ottawa County have tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). Both were hospitalized. As of today, neither has died. Neither person has a history of travel and likely became ill from being bitten by an infected mosquito in West Michigan. This is the highest reported number of cases of WNV in Ottawa County since 2018. Because WNV can result in very serious illness for some people, OCDPH is encouraging the community to use precautions during outdoor activities, such as bonfires and sporting events, to protect themselves from mosquito bites, particularly as warmer weather continues in the region. Mosquitoes stay active until the first hard freeze of the year.

WNV is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States. It is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. Cases of WNV occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall. There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV in people. Most people infected with WNV do not feel sick. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.


Eight in 10 people will not develop any symptoms of WNV. Mild symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches and joint pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash

Some people will experience more serious illness, which can affect the body’s central nervous system and result in encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord).

Symptoms of severe illness include:

  • High fever
  • Neck stiffness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Vision loss
  • Stupor, disorientation
  • Tremors, convulsions
  • Numbness
  • Paralysis
  • Coma

Prevention The best way to prevent exposure to WNV is to avoid mosquito bites.

  • Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET or other EPA-approved products to exposed skin or clothing. Always follow the manufacturer's directions for use.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.
  • Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitos outside.
  • Empty water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires and other water-holding containers where mosquitos can lay eggs.


No vaccines or prescription medications are available to prevent or treat WNV. Rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications can help alleviate symptoms. In more severe cases of illness, people may need to be hospitalized to manage symptoms. If you think you or a family member might have West Nile virus disease, talk with your health care provider.

Information on WNV, and other viruses transmitted by mosquitoes and insects in the State of Michigan, can be found here.

The Ottawa County Department of Public Health works with our community to help assure conditions that promote and protect health. OCDPH’s vision is healthy people. Follow OCDPH on Facebook @miOttawaHealth, X @miOCDPH, or Instagram @miOCDPH.