Report: West Nile confirmed in Portage Co.

Metro Wire Staff

Portage County Health and Human Services-Division of Public Health on Wednesday confirmed a dead crow found in the county has tested positive for West Nile Virus.

It’s the first crow to test positive for the disease since countywide surveillance for the mosquito-transmitted virus began May 1, according to a news release from HHS.

The crow was found in early August.

“The positive bird means that residents of Portage County need to be more vigilant in their personal
protective measures to prevent mosquito bites,” said Gary Garske, county health officer. “West Nile Virus is here to stay, so the best way to avoid the disease is to reduce exposure to and eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes.”

West Nile is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, Garske said. Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected birds.

Garske said there was a series of “simple steps” residents should take to combat the spread of West Nile:

-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 do not get sick, according to the Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services. Those who do typically experience mild symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches, rash, and fatigue.

Less than one percent become seriously ill with symptoms including 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, which can be fatal.

The DHS has monitored the spread of West Nile since 2001 among wild birds, horses, mosquitoes, and people. The state documented its first human infections in 2002 with 52 cases were reported that year. In 2017, 51 cases of West Nile infection were reported among Wisconsin residents.

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, please call the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 1-800-433-1610.

For more information on West Nile virus: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/arboviral/westnilevirus.htm.