CONTACT: Beth Kaplan, (608)267-3810
STATE ACTIVATES DEAD BIRD REPORTING HOTLINE TO TRACK WEST NILE VIRUS
MADISONTo help track the West Nile virus (WNV), state health
officials have reactivated the statewide, toll-free Dead Bird Reporting
Hotline at 1-800-433-1610.
"Dead birds act as an early warning system for West Nile
virus," said Dr. Henry Anderson, State Health Officer. "Finding
the virus in birds indicates that West Nile virus may be present in the
local mosquito population bites, triggering special prevention and
Anderson said that anyone who observes a dead bird can call the hotline
and arrange to have the bird tested for West Nile virus. Hotline staff can
answer questions about dead birds and provide information on safe handling
and disposal. People should not handle dead birds with their bare hands.
West Nile virus is spread to people by the bite of a mosquito infected
with the virus. Mosquitoes get infected with WNV by feeding on infected
birds and can then transmit the virus to other animals, birds, and humans.
Only one in five people infected with West Nile virus will have
symptoms, including fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a
skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. In rare cases, West Nile virus
can cause severe disease with additional symptoms including muscle
weakness, stiff neck, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis,
coma, and potentially death. Transplant recipients and older people are at
greater risk of developing severe illness.
Symptoms begin between 3 to 14 days after being bitten by an infected
mosquito and typically last a few days. People who become ill and think
they have West Nile virus infection should contact their healthcare
provider for treatment of symptoms.
"The best way to prevent West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne
infections is to prevent mosquito bites," Anderson said. Mosquitoes
breed in water, so eliminating standing water around homes and workplaces
reduces mosquito breeding sites and the risk of bites. Even small pools
formed in ashtrays or old tires can be breeding grounds.
Other measures to help decrease the risk of mosquito bites include:
- Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most
- Apply insect repellant to skin and spray clothing with insect
repellant since mosquitoes may bite through clothing. The CDC
recommends using products that contain active ingredients approved and
registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These
products display an EPA registration number on the label.
- Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts to reduce bites.
- Repair window and door screens to prevent mosquito entry.
- Properly dispose of items that hold water such as tin cans, plastic
containers, pots or discarded tires.
- Clean roof gutters and downspouts for proper drainage.
- Turn over wheelbarrows, wading pools, boats and canoes when not in
- Change the water in birdbaths and pet dishes at least every three
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs;
drain water from pool covers.
- Trim tall grass, weeds and vines since mosquitoes use these areas to
rest during hot daylight hours.
- Landscape to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas.
The Department of Health Services has monitored the spread of WNV since
2001. The surveillance program monitors wild birds, horses, and humans for
West Nile virus. In 2002, the state documented its first human infections
with 52 human cases. This was followed by 17 human cases in 2003, and 12
in 2004, 17 in 2005, 21 in 2006, 12 in 2007, 8 in 2008, 1 in 2009, and 2
For more information on West Nile virus, go to
For information regarding mosquito repellents, visit http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/qa/insect_repellent.htm.
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June 12, 2012