The JCV (Jamestown Canyon Virus): A New Health Threat Brewing in Detroit

The JCV spreads through the bites of infected female mosquitoes. Many areas in the United States have this virus, but most of the recorded cases come from the upper Midwest. Recent reports have included Detroit in the list of states that is positive for this infection. Late spring to mid-fall are the seasons when Jamestown Canyon Virus cases occur. Unfortunately, there are no preventive vaccines or treatment medications for this infection. The only defense you can do is to prevent the bites.


Hungry mosquitoes biting
Hungry mosquitoes biting

Many people do not exhibit symptoms of this disease. The incubation period is about three days to two weeks. Initial symptoms may include headaches, fever, and fatigue. You may also develop a cough, runny nose, or sore throat. The JCV can lead to severe disease with the following symptoms:

  • Infection of the spinal cord, brain, and the membranes around the brain
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty speaking

About half of patients infected with Jamestown Canyon Virus often need hospitalization. But it is rare for this ailment to result in death.


Jamestown Canyon Virus
Jamestown Canyon Virus

The JCV has its name because the infection was first discovered in mosquitoes in Jamestown, Colorado back in 1861. A possible infection will need the attention of a licensed healthcare professional. The diagnosis will be based on the following:

  • History of traveling or living in an area that is known to have a circulation of Jamestown Canyon Virus
  • Significant signs and symptoms
  • Laboratory tests of spinal fluid and blood

The attending doctor will order tests that can detect JCV or rule out other diseases that may exhibit the same symptoms.

Treatment Plan

Infected mosquitoes that may carry JCV
Infected mosquitoes that may carry JCV

The doctor will not give antibiotics because these medications do not treat viruses. Pain relievers, rest, and fluids may relieve some of the JCV symptoms. Nursing care and intravenous fluids may be necessary to help the patient as well.

People Who Can Get JCV

If an infected mosquito bites you, you can get Jamestown Canyon Virus. Infections often occur from April to September. Those who get this disease more often are individuals who are AMAB (assigned male at birth) and males. AMAB individuals are women who transitioned from their male gender, but were male at birth. Scientists believe that there are still underreported and undiagnosed cases because of a lack of testing and awareness. JCV symptoms may also be mistaken for other types of infections.

Diagnosing and Testing

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms first. You must reveal your recent travel and other activities. The doctor will recommend antibody tests and blood tests. These diagnostic exams can confirm JCV and rule out other diseases. Here are the other tests that your doctor may recommend.

Testing a mosquito-borne disease
Testing a mosquito-borne disease
  • MRI or magnetic resonance imaging.
  • RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) test.
  • Lumbar puncture or spinal tap.
  • PRNT or plaque reduction neutralization test.

Treatment and Management

Most patients with JCV do not have symptoms. That is why most of them do not need treatment. Mild symptoms will need over-the-counter pain relievers for fever and headache. Fluids can prevent dehydration. Proper rest can help the body recover. Developing severe symptoms will need hospitalization and IV fluids. There is still no specific treatment for Jamestown Canyon Virus.

Preventing JCV

Remove mosquito breeding areas
Remove mosquito breeding areas

Preventing this disease means avoiding getting bit by infected mosquitoes. You must take necessary precautions and follow safety guidelines whenever you travel. This means that you need to stay away from areas with active JCV infections. Stay inside at dawn and dusk when the mosquitoes bite. Removing breeding areas with standing water can reduce mosquito breeding areas.

In Detroit

Recently, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Saginaw County are now instructing residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites. The collected mosquitoes in the county tested positive for JCV. In Detroit, six people were diagnosed with JCV in 2021. One person had this disease last year. A mosquito can get the infection if it bites an infected animal.

The Jamestown Canyon Virus can incubate three days to two weeks after the infectious bite. The MDHHS is asking the people of Michigan to do their best to use EPA-registered repellents when they are outdoors. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants can help prevent bites as well.

Protect yourself from bites
Protect yourself from bites

Protecting livestock and pets is important as well. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) says that mosquitoes may be annoying but they do carry deadly diseases. The department urges the development of a mosquito prevention strategy to reduce the risk of Jamestown Canyon Virus outbreaks.

Cases of the JCV are starting to scare the people of Detroit. The most effective way to fight off this disease is to prevent bites. Even if this disease pops up in other areas of the country or the world, you must protect yourself and your household well from mosquito bites.