UPDATE: Friday, August 24: State officials have confirmed a third death, today, and the number of confirmed cases has climbed to 57, more than twice the number reported a week ago.
Health officials say this could be the worst year ever for West Nile-related cases. A second person has died of West Nile virus in Michigan and there are more confirmed cases so far this year, than there were in all of 2011.
“The weather that we've had in Michigan has created an almost false sense of security this year, where we've had very dry, warm weather,” says Angela Minicuci, a spokesperson for the state Department of Community Health. “People tend to think wet weather correlates to mosquitos - and it does. But it correlates to the nuisance mosquitos, not the ones that carry West Nile virus.”
In fact, hot and dry weather is perfect breeding conditions for the mosquitos that carry West Nile.
Health officials say a 69-year-old Detroit man, with underlying health problems, died of West Nile this week. The other victim was a healthy elderly woman in Washtenaw County.
“We've had 41 cases so far at this time and for the entire season last year we had a total of 34 cases,” Minicuci says.
People are being urged to fix holes in their window screens to keep mosquitos out of the house - and to wear insect repellent outdoors.