LANSING, MI (WTOL) - The first findings of the West Nile virus for Michigan in 2017 have been confirmed in three birds across the state.
The virus was found in a turkey in Barry County and two crows, one from Kalamazoo County and one from Saginaw County.
The birds were found sick or dead in early May.
Birds are the natural carrier of the virus and normally do not show any symptoms. Mosquitoes become infected when they bite an infected bird.
Dr. Kelly Straka, a state wildlife veterinarian said observations and reports from the public are critical in helping health and wildlife experts understand a disease better.
"We ask residents to contact us if they find sick or dead crows, blackbirds, owls or hawks, or any other bird exhibiting signs of illness," said Straka.
Symptoms of West Nile virus in humans include a high fever, confusion, muscles weakness and a severe headache. The virus can lead to more serious health issues such as neurological illnesses, meningitis and encephalitis.
The best way for residents to stay protected against West Nile is to prevent mosquito bites.
"Everyone older than six months of age should use repellent outdoors," said Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive of MDHHS. "It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause a severe illness, so take extra care during peak mosquito-biting hours, which are dusk and dawn for the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus."
Mosquitos that carry the virus are usually found near people's homes in storm drains, shallow ditches, retention ponds, and unused pools.
As summer temperatures rise, mosquitoes and the virus develop more quickly. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection.