That's why state health officials are urging residents over six months of age to wear repellent when they go outside. The health department will be collecting eligible dead birds until October 15.
West Nile is transmitted to humans most often through mosquito bites, Eisner said. Nationally, there were 2,038 human cases of the virus and 94 deaths reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Typically, cases in IL aren't found until late July or August.
Earlier this month, three birds tested positive for the virus in Michigan State University labs. A mosquito becomes infected by biting a bird that carries the virus.
In 2016, there were two reported West Nile cases along with three cases of St. Louis Encephalitis, a similar mosquito-borne illness, according to the health district.
People are being warned to take steps to prevent mosquito bites, which can transmit the virus. Those species include crows, blue jays and ravens. Small to medium-sized hawks and owls can also be submitted for testing, by bringing them to the health department. Potentially infected birds should be double-bagged and placed on a chill pack or bag of ice, Deters said. Decomposed birds are not accepted, nor are birds that are deflated, dried, bloated or found with maggots.
Eisner says the severity of the disease depends on the health and proliferation of the mosquito population and the National Weather Service is predicting the kind of summer that would be mosquito-friendly in MI.
The disease is not contagious between people, but health officials are reminding everyone to use mosquito repellants and avoid exposing skin around dusk when mosquitos are most active. Adults 50 years old and older have the highest risk of severe illness caused by West Nile virus, according to the MDHHS.