Public Health Updates

Infection Preventionist and Assistant Director of Nursing Sara Schut shares news updates regarding infectious diseases from Kent County and CDC. Check back for periodic updates!

Updated: August 16th, 2023
West Nile Virus found in mosquito “pool” in Kent County

During annual routine surveillance conducted by the Kent County Health Department (KCHD), West Nile Virus was detected in Kent County for the first time in 2023. This was not a human case.

The trap was located in the 49548 zip code near the border of Byron and Gaines Townships. The pool of tested mosquitoes were collected on July 26, 2023 and the KCHD received confirmation of the positive result from the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) on August 9, 2023.

“This is an important discovery because it tells us that the virus in now present in our community and it can spread to humans,” said Paul Bellamy, Public Health Epidemiologist at KCHD. “Now, more than ever, it is time to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites as much as possible.”

Most people who get the illness will never even know they have it but in rare cases the disease can progress to a severe illness that can affect the central nervous system. Unfortunately, there is no cure for West Nile Virus and it can be fatal. 

The best prevention is to avoid mosquito bites is by doing the following: 

  • Wearing a mosquito repellant that contains 10 – 35% DEET.
  • Wearing light colored clothing and staying indoors as much as possible, especially at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are the most active. 
  • Removing anything that can hold standing water where mosquitoes can breed.
  • Removing or frequently refreshing the water in bird baths, children’s wading pools, and pet water bowls.

If you have symptoms that progress to high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, tremors, vision loss, numbness, or paralysis, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Every year the KCHD conducts a mosquito surveillance program that traps mosquitoes at various locations around the County. The traps are collected weekly and the mosquitoes are then pulverized and tested for the presence of West Nile Virus. Positive results are shared with appropriate municipal agencies who can then make informed decisions about a mosquito remediation plan.

Listen to this episode of the KCHD podcast “A Matter of Public Health” for more in-depth information about mosquitoes and ticks and what you can do to better protect yourself and your family. 

Vaccinations: Safeguard Yourself & Loved Ones

August is National Immunization Month. Staying up-to-date helps prevent disease, outbreaks and keeps our community safe.

Kent County has several clinic locations throughout the county All clinics are open Monday through Friday, however, hours may vary by location. 

The Kent County Health Department is available to assist with families with vaccination appointments.  Please call 616-632-7200 for questions or to make an appointment.


New COVID Variant EG.5 is on the rise

There’s a new coronavirus popping up on the radars of epidemiologists across the United States. It is called EG.5 and it may sound like the new kid on the block, but you could consider it and more like a cousin of of the original Omicron strain. 

On August 9, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the EG-5 variant is now responsible for more new COVID cases than any other other variant but EG-5 has been in the US since at least April. Despite a slight uptick in COVID related hospitalizations recently, CDC officials say there is no evidence that EG-5 causes more severe illness or that it is more transmissible than the previous mutations of COVID.

Health experts say that as long as the evidence shows the variant is no more virulent than previous genetic iterations, their guidance to the public remains unchanged. People who test positive should continue to isolate themselves for five days and they should wear a mask in public for five additional days after that.

A new booster vaccine is scheduled to arrive this Fall and health experts also advise keeping up to date on all booster vaccines. More information form the CDC can be found here.

Questions? Contact:
Sara Schut, BSN, RN
Assistant Director of Nursing
Beacon Hill at Eastgate

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Beacon Hill at Eastgate is a distinctive, not-for-profit retirement community located in Grand Rapids’ desirable Eastgate neighborhood.

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