JEFFERSON — A crow carrying West Nile virus was found in Jefferson County on Monday, Aug. 5, the Jefferson County Health Department has reported.
West Nile is a disease spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, which get the virus by feeding on infected birds.
The Jefferson County Health Department started monitoring for the virus on May 1 and this is the first positive test, department director Gail Scott said.
She warned residents to avoid mosquitoes as much as possible.
“The positive bird means that residents of Jefferson County need to be more careful to prevent mosquito bites,” Scott said.
Jefferson County joins Dane and Milwaukee counties as the only three in the state to have reported cases of West Nile virus in 2019, according to the Wisconsin Department of Human Services.
Dane and Milwaukee counties have had five reported incidences found in mosquito pools, according to DHS. Jefferson is the first county in the state to have a bird test positive for the disease this year.
While 80 percent of people infected by the virus don’t get sick, the remaining 20 percent usually have mild symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle ache, rash and fatigue, according to the health department.
Less than 1 percent of people infected get seriously ill. Elderly people and those with compromised immune systems are at greater risk of developing central nervous system illness that can lead to death.
There currently is no treatment or vaccine for West Nile virus, according to the Wisconsin Department of Human Services. Over-the-counter pain relievers might be prescribed to help with mild symptoms, hospitalization may occur for more severe cases.
The State of Wisconsin has monitored the spread of the disease since 2001 among birds, horses, mosquitoes and people. In 2018, 33 cases of West Nile virus infection in Wisconsin residents were reported. Since 2001, 338 cases of the virus have been reported in Wisconsin.
Most cases of the virus are reported late in the summer in August and September.
Scott recommended a number of methods to avoid mosquitoes:
- 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 intact to prevent mosquitoes from getting in.
- 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.
The county and state will continue to monitor for the virus, Scott said.
To report a sick or dead crow, blue jay or raven, call the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 1-800-433-1610.