West Nile Safety

What Should I Do if My Child is Bitten By a Mosquito?

Remember very few (less than 1%) mosquitoes are infected with the West Nile virus. Most people including children who are bitten by mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus will experience no symptoms or very mild illnesses. If illness were to occur, it would occur within 3 to 15 days of being bitten by an infected mosquito.


Symptoms may include fever, headache, body aches, a mild rash or swollen lymph glands. West Nile virus can lead to encephalitis causing permanent neurological damage and can be fatal. Symptoms of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) include the rapid onset of severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, confusion, loss of consciousness (coma), or muscle weakness, and may be fatal. Seek medical attention if your child develops such as high fever with confusion; muscle weakness; severe headaches; and stick neck.

Protecting Children From Mosquito Bites

While anyone can become infected with the virus if bitten by an infected mosquito, children need an adult’s help in taking precautions against mosquito bites. From April to October, if children are outside from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active, or during the day in an area where there are weeds, tall grass, or bushes, dress your child in protective clothing such as long pants, loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts, and socks and consider the use of an insect repellent containing Deet using the manufacturer’s instructions.

Eliminate mosquito breading and harborage areas including discarded tires, bird baths, clogged gutters, wading pools, toys left outside and virtually any other water source left stagnant for at least four days.

For more information contact Wayne County Department of Public Health at 734-727-7000 or visit there website.

West Nile Facts

West Nile Encephalitis

Viruses and bacteria can cause encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord). Many individuals infected with the virus do not become ill, however, in those who become ill, most infections are mild. In 1999 and 2000, it caused an outbreak of human encephalitis in and around New York City. It is not known how West Nile was introduced in the United States.

Natural Transmission

Infected mosquitoes are the primary source for West Nile Virus. Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile Virus when they feed on infected birds that carry the virus in their blood. Those infected mosquitoes can then transmit West Nile Virus to humans and other animals while biting them to take in blood. West Nile encephalitis is not transmitted from person-to-person.

Signs & Symptoms

Most infections are mild, and symptoms include body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. More severe infection may be marked by headache, high fever, stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. Persons with severe or unusual headaches should seek medical care as soon as possible.


Everyone is susceptible to West Nile encephalitis or meningitis in areas where virus activity has been identified; however, less than 1% of people who get bitten by an infected mosquito will become severely ill.


There is no vaccine for West Nile encephalitis. However, a person with severe disease, intensive supportive therapy is indicated: hospitalization, intravenous fluids, airway management, respiratory support (ventilator) if needed, prevention of secondary infections (pneumonia, urinary tract, etc.), and good nursing care.

How to Prevent Infection

  • Empty all sources of standing water such as birdbaths, old tires and toys where water can collect.
  • As much as possible, stay inside when mosquito activity is heavy - dawn, dusk and early evening.
  • Whenever possible, wear long sleeves and long pants.
  • Close gaps and cracks in window screens.
  • Use insect repellent containing permethrin or Deet. An effective repellent will contain 35% Deet. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends products with 10% or lower Deet for children.
  • Do not use products with Deet on infants, under two years of age, pregnant women or children’s bedding or bed clothes. Apply repellent on exposed skin and clothes. Do not place on child’s hands or near mouth.
  • Wash repellent off after coming indoors.

West Nile Hotline Information

American crows are susceptible to West Nile Virus infection. Therefore, crows (big black birds) found dead less than 48 hours should be reported to the Michigan department of Community Health’s hotline number at: 1-888-668-0869 or Wayne County department of Public Health’s Environmental Health Division at 734-727-7400

Information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Wayne County Department of Health.