West Nile virus confirmed in Douglas CountyOn Tuesday, officials confirmed a case of West Nile virus in Douglas County. The Douglas County Health and Human Services Department reported a dead crow found in Douglas County on Sept. 12 tested positive for the virus.
On Tuesday, officials confirmed a case of West Nile virus in Douglas County.
The Douglas County Health and Human Services Department reported a dead crow found in Douglas County on Sept. 12 tested positive for the virus. It was the first positive test this year in Douglas County since surveillance for the mosquito-transmitted virus began May 1.
Douglas County had a positive human case reported in 2003. The county also had confirmed cases of the virus in birds in 2008, 2006 and 2004.
“The positive bird means that residents of Douglas County need to be more vigilant in their personal protective measures to prevent mosquito bites,” said Katherine German-Olson, health officer. Mosquitoes will be active in cooler weather, and county residents need to avoid bites until after the first freeze to be protected.
West Nile virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected birds.
“Douglas County residents should be aware of West Nile virus and take some simple steps to protect themselves against mosquito bites,” German-Olson said. “The West Nile virus seems to be here to stay, so the best way to avoid the disease is to reduce exposure and to eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes.”
Washburn, Sawyer, Bayfield and Ashland counties also all have one confirmed case of West Nile virus reported in birds for the 2013 surveillance period.
None of those counties or Douglas County had any West Nile virus activity in 2012, when 27 counties reported cases — including 44 confirmed cases in humans and five deaths — according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website.
This year, 53 counties had reported West Nile virus activity as of Sept. 18. Two cases in humans have been confirmed and six more are probable.
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 the virus were reported among humans, 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.
The majority of people (80 percent) who are infected with West Nile virus do not get sick. Those who do become ill usually experience symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle ache, rash and fatigue. Less than 1 percent of people infected with the virus become seriously ill. Adults 50 and older and those with compromised immune systems are at greater risk of developing central nervous system illness that can be fatal.
To decrease your chances of contracting the West Nile virus, the Douglas County Health and Human Services 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 dispose 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.
•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; mosquitoes use these areas to rest during hot daylight hours.
•Landscape to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas.
The Wisconsin Division of Public Health will continue surveillance for the 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.