Dead crow tests positive for disease
A dead crow found near Waupaca tested positive for West Nile virus.
This is the first bird that tested positive for West Nile virus in Waupaca County since surveillance began on May 1.
The Waupaca County Department of Health and Human Services reported the bird was found on July 21.
A second bird, found at the same time in the Waupaca area, also tested positive.
“The positive bird means that residents of Waupaca County need to be more vigilant in their personal protective measures to prevent mosquito bites,” said Jed Wohlt, the county health officer.
West Nile virus is spread to humans and horses through the bite of an infected mosquito.
Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected birds.
Wohlt said there has not been a confirmed human case of West Nile virus in Waupaca County since 2002, when the first human cases appeared in Wisconsin.
Public health officials began monitoring the disease in wild birds, horses, mosquitoes and people in 2001.
In 2002, there were 52 human cases of West Nile virus reported in Wisconsin.
That number peaked in 2012 with 57 confirmed cases of the disease statewide.
Waupaca County had no positive bird tests in 2016.
However, there were positive bird tests in Waupaca County in 2015, 2014 and 2013.
West Nile virus infections in humans have been reported from June through October. However, most reported becoming ill with the virus in August and September.
About 80 percent of people who are infected with West Nile virus do not get sick. Those who do become ill usually experience mild symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle ache, rash and fatigue.
Less than 1 percent of people infected with the virus get seriously ill with symptoms that include 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 that can be fatal.
“Waupaca County residents should be aware of West Nile virus and take some simple steps to protect themselves against mosquito bites,” Wohlt 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.”
Waupaca County Public Health recommends the following:
• Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
• Apply insect repellent 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 around your property 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 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.
• 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 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, call the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 800-433-1610.