FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 20, 2013
Jennifer Miller, Department of Health Services, (608) 266-1683
Linda Walter, Washington County Health Department, (262) 335-4462
FIRST BIRD IN WISCONSIN TEST POSITIVE FOR THE WEST NILE VIRUS THIS YEAR
Officials Encourage Precautions to Prevent Mosquito
MADISON—State and county health officials announced today that a dead
crow found in Washington County has tested positive for West Nile virus.
This is the first bird to test positive for the virus in Wisconsin this
year. Although very few mosquitoes actually carry West Nile virus,
infected birds serve as an early warning that the virus is present in
the area and that people should be more vigilant in protecting
themselves against mosquito bites.
West Nile virus is spread to people through the bite of an infected
mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile virus by feeding on
infected birds, and then potentially transmit the virus by biting other
animals or people.
The Department of Health Services has monitored the spread of West
Nile virus since 2001 among wild birds, horses, mosquitoes, and people.
During 2002, the state documented its first human infections and 52
cases were reported that year. During 2012, 57 cases of West Nile virus
infection were reported among Wisconsin residents, the highest annual
number of cases reported since surveillance began in Wisconsin. West
Nile virus infections in humans have been reported from June through
October; however, most reported becoming ill with West Nile virus in
August and September.
Measures to help decrease exposure to mosquitoes and prevent West
Nile virus and other mosquito-borne infections include:
- Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are
- Apply insect repellant to clothing as well as exposed skin.
- Make sure window and door screens are in good repair to prevent
- Reduce mosquito breeding sites by properly disposing of items
that hold water such as tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots,
or discarded tires.
- Clean roof gutters and downspouts for proper drainage.
- Turn over wheelbarrows, wading pools, boats, and canoes when not
in use so they will not collect water.
- Change the water in birdbaths and pet dishes at least every
- 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
- Landscape to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas.
The chances of a person becoming infected with the West Nile virus
are low and most infected people will not have any symptoms. Those who
do become ill typically develop a fever, headache, and rash that lasts a
few days. Neurologic problems may occur in a small percentage of
infected people. Symptoms may begin between three to 15 days after being
bitten by an infected mosquito. Older adults and people with compromised
immune systems are at an increased risk of severe disease from the
virus. There is no specific medication for West Nile virus other than
supportive treatment to help alleviate symptoms. If you think you have a
West Nile virus infection, contact your healthcare provider.
Statewide surveillance activities for West Nile virus began on May 1.
People who find a dead bird in their yard or who have a question about a
dead bird should call the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 1-800-433-1610.
People should not handle dead birds with their bare hands but should use
gloves or a clean plastic bag to pick up the bird through the bag. Horse
owners should contact their veterinarian to get their horse vaccinated
or if they suspect their horse is ill with West Nile virus infection.
For more information on West Nile virus, go to:
# # #
June 20, 2013