A dead crow recently found in Kenosha County has tested positive for West Nile virus.
According to the Kenosha County Division of Health, the crow — found on July 31 — is the first bird to test positive for West Nile virus in the county since surveillance for the mosquito-transmitted virus began May 1.
“The positive bird means that residents of Kenosha County need to be more vigilant in their personal protective measures to prevent mosquito bites,” said Cynthia Johnson, Kenosha County health officer/public health director.
West Nile virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected birds.
“Kenosha County residents should be aware of West Nile virus and take some simple steps to protect themselves against mosquito bites,” Johnson said. “West Nile virus is here to stay, so the best way to avoid the disease is to reduce exposure to and eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes.”
The Kenosha County Division of Health recommends the following:
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 in good repair to prevent mosquito entry.
Prevent mosquitoes from breeding by removing stagnant water from items around your property, such as tin cans, plastic containers, flower pots, discarded tires, or clogged 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.
According to the health department, 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, paralysis and coma.
Older adults and those with compromised immune systems are at greater risk of developing central nervous system illnesses that can be fatal.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has monitored the spread of West Nile virus since 2001 among wild birds, horses, mosquitoes and people. During 2002, the state documented its first human infections, and 52 cases were reported that year. During 2017, 51 cases of West Nile virus infection were reported among Wisconsin residents.
West Nile virus infections in humans have usually been reported in the months of June through October; however, most West Nile virus reports came in August and September.
DHS 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 1-800-433-1610.
For more information on West Nile virus, visit https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/arboviral/westnilevirus.htm.