The Sauk County Health Department has reported that a dead crow found in Sauk County on in mid-June has tested positive for West Nile virus. This is the first bird that tested positive for West Nile virus in Sauk County since surveillance for the mosquito-transmitted virus began May 1, 2014. “The positive bird means that residents of Sauk County need to be more vigilant in their personal protective measures to prevent mosquito bites,” Cynthia Bodendein, Public Health Director said. West Nile virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected birds. “Sauk County residents should be aware of West Nile virus and take some simple steps to protect themselves against mosquito bites,” Bodendein said. “The West Nile virus seems to be here to stay, so the best way to avoid the disease is to reduce exposure to and eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes.”

The Sauk 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 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 since mosquitoes use these areas to rest during hot daylight hours.
  • Landscape to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas.

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 2013, 21 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. The Wisconsin Division of Public Health 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, please call the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 1-800-433-1610.  However, no further dead birds will be tested from Sauk County this season.

For more information on West Nile virus: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/communicable/ArboviralDiseases/WestNileVirus/Index.htm

 

Contributed by Annie Allen – Sauk County Health Department