by AMELIA WEDEMEYER
A Buffalo County crow tested positive for West Nile virus after it was found dead on July 20. According to the Buffalo County Health Department (BCHD), the crow is the first bird to test positive for the mosquito-transmitted virus since surveillance for the West Nile started on May 1.
According to the BCHD, 80 percent of people who are infected with West Nile do not get sick, but those who do become ill usually experience mild symptoms that can include fever, headache, muscle ache, rash and fatigue. Less than one percent of people infected will become seriously ill with symptoms that include high fever, muscle weakness, stiff neck, mental confusion, tremors, paralysis and coma. People with poor immune systems and older adults are at a greater risk of developing a central nervous system illness that can become fatal. If people are experiencing these symptoms, I would recommend they see their providers if they are concerned with their health, said April Glasspoole, a BCHD public health nurse.
The BCHD recommends that people take the following extra precautions:
Limit time spent outside at down and dusk. This is when mosquitos are most active during the day.
Apply insect repellant to exposed skin as well as clothing, since mosquitos may be able to bite through some types of clothing.
Make sure window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquitos entering a residence.
Properly dispose 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.
Change the water in birdbaths and pet dishes at least every three days.
Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Also make sure to drain water from pool covers.
Trim tall grass, weeds and vines because mosquitos use these areas to rest during hot daylight hours.
Landscape to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas.
You can report a sick or dead crow, blue jay, or raven to the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 1-800-433-1610. The Wisconsin Division of Public Health will continue surveillance for West Nile until the end of the mosquito season. For more information on West Nile virus visit http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/communicable/ArboviralDiseases/WestNileVirus/Index.htm.