November 29, 2014

First case of West Nile Virus confirmed

First bird to test positive for West Nile Virus this season is reported in Dane County.

It’s the first case in all of Wisconsin. West Nile virus is spread to people and horses through the bite of an infected mosquito. Officials are urging residents to take precautions to reduce the risk of getting bit, including using insect repellent.

Diep Hoang Johnson is an epidemiologist with division of public health at the state Health Department. She says about 80 percent of people infected with WNV don’t become ill. “But about 20 percent may experience symptoms like fever, headache, photophobia, sometimes a rash, and that can last a few days.”

The elderly and people with compromised immune symptoms are at a higher risk of getting a severe disease after being bit.

Mosquitoes love to breed in stagnant water, like bird baths, old tires, wheelbarrows, etc. “You have proteins break downs and rotten materials break down — perfect growing conditions for these mosquitoes.”

In 2002, the state documented its first human infections, with 52 human cases. People who find a dead bird in their yard should call the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 1-800-433-1610.

People can take measures to reduce exposure to mosquitoes and prevent West Nile virus infection:

· Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
· Apply insect repellant.
· Make sure window and door screens are in good repair.
· Properly dispose of, or turn over, items that hold water to prevent mosquito breeding, such as discarded tires, wheelbarrows, and wading pools.
· Clean roof gutters and downspouts for proper drainage.
· Trim tall grass, weeds and vines because mosquitoes use these areas to rest during hot daylight hours.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:24