Mosquitoes still threat to spread West Nile virus
Just when it seemed late enough in the year to relax about mosquitoes comes this from neighboring Florence County in Wisconsin: The health department reports a dead crow found earlier this month has tested positive for West Nile virus.
This is the first bird confirmed for West Nile virus in the county since surveillance for the mosquito-transmitted virus began May 1.
Unfortunately, if a bird can get West Nile, so can humans. West Nile virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected birds.
“The positive bird means that residents of Florence County and the area need to be more vigilant in their personal protective measures to prevent mosquito bites,” said Annette Seibold, health officer/public health director.
To better avoid the virus, the Florence County Health Department recommends:
•Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active;
•Apply an insect repellant with DEET, IR3535, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus to exposed skin and clothing;
•Make sure window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquito entry;
•Prevent mosquitoes from breeding by removing stagnant water from items around your property, such as tin cans, plastic containers, flower pots, discarded tires, roof gutters, and downspouts;
•Turn over wheelbarrows, wading pools, boats, and canoes when not in use;
•Change the water in bird baths and pet dishes at least every three days;
•Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs; drain water from pool covers;
•Landscape to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas, and trim tall grass, weeds, and vines, since mosquitoes use these areas to rest during hot daylight hours.
About 80 percent of those infected with West Nile virus do not get sick. Those who do become ill usually experience mild symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle ache, rash, and fatigue. Less than 1 percent of people infected with the virus get seriously ill, with symptoms that include high fever, muscle weakness, stiff neck, disorientation, mental confusion, tremors, confusion, paralysis and coma. Older adults and those with compromised immune systems are at greater risk of developing central nervous system illness that can be fatal.
The Wisconsin 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 2017, 51 cases of West Nile virus infection were reported among Wisconsin residents. 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.
DHS will continue surveillance for West Nile virus until the end of the mosquito season. To report a sick or dead crow, blue jay or raven, call the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 1-800-433-1610.