Brown Deer - Mosquito season is starting to wind down, but the North Shore Health Department is warning residents to remain vigilant after finding that a dead crow has tested positive for West Nile virus.
The virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, and mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on an infected bird.
"West Nile virus seems to be here to stay," North Shore health director Ann Christiansen said in a news release. "The best way to avoid the disease is to reduce exposure to and eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes."
The department recommended nine steps to follow:
- Limit time spent outdoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active;
- Apply insect repellent to clothing, as well as exposed skin;
- Make sure screens are in good repair to keep mosquitoes out;
- Dispose of items that hold water, like tin cans, plastic containers and tires;
- Clean gutters and downspouts;
- Turn over wheelbarrows, wading pools and boats when not in use;
- Change water in birdbaths and pet dishes every third day;
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, saunas and hot tubs; and
- Trim tall grass, weeds and vines where mosquitoes lurk during daylight.
"This is a seasonal issue [while] people are still outside, and mosquitoes are active," Christiansen said.
Asked where the infected bird was found, Christiansen declined to answer.
"The location of the bird is indicative of people's willingness to find it and bring it in," she said, not necessarily if the virus is concentrated in a specific area.
She added that the department won't need additional samples to test, but anyone finding a sick or dead crow, raven or blue jay can report it to the Wisconsin Division of Public Health at 800-433-1610.
The state Department of Health Services reported nine cases of Wisconsin residents with West Nile virus infection last year. Infections in humans have been reported from June through October, but most reported becoming ill in August or September.
The North Shore department's release reported that about 80 percent of people infected with West Nile virus don't 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, tremors, paralysis and coma."