Two Dane County residents tested positive for West Nile Virus, Public Health Madison & Dane County said Wednesday.

PHMDC said the two tests are the first local cases reported this season, although two cases have been reported to date in Wisconsin.

West Nile Virus is spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito and is not transmitted person to person, according to a news release. Although few mosquitoes actually carry the virus, it is important to take steps to minimize your exposure even in October, which is late in the mosquito season.

“With the warm, wet weather this late summer and fall our mosquito season has extended longer than in past years," John Hausbeck, PHMDC Environmental Health supervisor, said.

The likelihood of contracting the West Nile Virus infection is low and most people infected with the virus will not have symptoms. Those who do become ill may develop a fever, headache, rash, muscle and joint aches, nausea, vomiting and fatigue that can last a few days. Symptoms may begin three to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. In rare cases, severe diseases including encephalitis and meningitis can develop from West Nile Virus infection. Older adults and people with compromised immune systems are at an increased risk of severe disease caused by the virus.

There is no specific treatment for West Nile Virus infection other than treating its symptoms.

Mosquito activity will persist until there is frost or a hard freeze. Until then, PHMDC advised that residents minimize exposure to mosquito bites by:

  • Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Apply insect repellent to clothing as well as exposed skin because mosquitoes may bite through clothing.
  • Make sure window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquito entry.
  • Dispose of items that hold water, such as tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or discarded tires to prevent mosquito breeding. Turn over wheelbarrows, wading pools, boats and canoes when not in use.
  • Clean roof gutters and downspouts for proper drainage.
  • 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 because mosquitoes use these areas to rest during hot daylight hours.
  • Landscape to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas.