First bird in the state tests positive for West Nile - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

First bird in the state tests positive for West Nile

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A dead crow found in Dodge County has tested positive for the West Nile virus.

State and county health officials made the announcement Monday morning, saying this is the first bird in the state to test positive for the virus in 2014.  Officials are encouraging people to be more vigilant in protecting themselves against mosquito bites, although very few mosquitoes actually carry the virus. 
Infected birds serve as a warning the virus is present in the area.  Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile virus by feeding on infected birds, and can then potentially transmit the virus by biting other animals or people.
Since 2001, the Department of Health Services has monitored the spread of West Nile virus in wild birds, horses, mosquitoes, and people.  21 cases of West Nile virus infection were reported among Wisconsin residents in 2013. 
The chances are low for a person to become infected with West Nile.  Most of those infected won't have symptoms, and those who do fall ill typically develop a fever, headache, body aches, and swollen lymph glands.  Symptoms tend to begin three to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.  Older adults and people with compromised immune systems are at an increased risk of severe disease caused by the virus.  While there are no specific medications to treat the virus infection, there are supportive treatments to help alleviate symptoms. 
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has listed measures to help decrease exposure to mosquitoes and prevent West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne infections:

  • Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active
  • Apply insect repellant to clothing, as well as to exposed skin
  • Make sure window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquito entry
  • Reduce mosquito breeding sites by properly disposing 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 so they will not collect water
  • 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
People who have a question about a dead bird should call the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 1-800-433-1610.  Do no handle dead birds with bare hands, use gloves or a clean plastic bag to pick up the bird. 

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