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First human cases of West Nile reported in Wisconsin

The first 2017 human cases of West Nile virus have been confirmed in Wisconsin, in residents of Oconto and Fond du Lac counties. State and local health officials are urging all residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites.

The majority of human cases of West Nile virus in the state occur during August and September. The chances of a person contracting the virus are very low, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, and most people infected with West Nile will not have any symptoms.

Those who do become ill may develop a fever, headache and rash that lasts a few days. The symptoms begin between three to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

In rare cases, the virus can cause severe symptoms such as muscle weakness, stiff neck, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis and coma. Older adults and people with compromised immune systems have an increased risk of severe symptoms.

There is no specific treatment for West Nile virus other than to treat the symptoms, according to the health department. Residents who think they have the virus were encouraged to call their health care provider.

The health department has monitored the spread of West Nile since 2001 among wild birds, horses, mosquitoes and people. During 2002, Wisconsin documented its first human infections and 52 cases were reported that year.

In 2016, 13 cases of West Nile virus infection were reported among Wisconsin residents.

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