West Nile virus found in Vilas County
A dead crow found in Vilas County has tested positive for West Nile virus. According to the Vilas County Health Department, this is the first bird that tested positive for West Nile virus in Vilas County since monitoring for the mosquito-transmitted virus began May 1.
“The positive bird means that residents of Vilas County need to be more aware of the steps they take to prevent mosquito bites,” Gina Egan, Health Officer of Vilas County Health Department said.
West Nile virus is spread to people through the bite of a mosquito that carries the virus. Mosquitoes get the virus by feeding on birds that already have it.
“The West Nile virus seems to be here to stay, so the best way to avoid the disease is to try not to get bit by mosquitoes and to get rid of any breeding grounds,” Egan said.
The Vilas County Health Department recommends the following:
- Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
- Apply insect repellant to clothing as well as exposed skin since mosquitoes may bite through clothing.
- Make sure window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquito entry.
- Properly throw away 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.
- Change the water in birdbaths and pet dishes at least every three days.
- 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 majority of people (80%) who get West Nile virus do not get ill. Those who do become ill usually have mild signs or symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle ache, rash, and being tired. Less than 1% of people who have the virus get seriously ill with symptoms that include high fever, muscle weakness, stiff neck, tremors, confusion, paralysis and coma. Older adults and those with weak immune systems have a greater chance of developing central nervous system illness that can lead to death.
The Department of Health Services has monitored the spread of West Nile virus since 2001 among wild birds, horses, mosquitoes, and people. In 2002, the first person in the state became ill. Last year, there was 6 people ill with West Nile. West Nile virus illnesses in people have been reported from June through October; however, most reported becoming ill with West Nile virus in August and September.
The Wisconsin Division of Public Health will continue monitoring for West Nile virus until the end of the mosquito season. To report a sick or dead crow, blue jay, or raven, please call the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 1-800-433-1610.
For more information on West Nile virus, please contact Gina Egan, Vilas County Health Department at 715-479-3656 or visit: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/communicable/ArboviralDiseases/WestNileVirus/Index.htm