Dane County residents worry about West Nile virus

Two deaths in Wisconsin have been linked to the virus

Published On: Sep 06 2012 09:21:54 PM CDT   Updated On: Sep 06 2012 09:54:07 PM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

One probable case of West Nile virus has been reported in Dane County so far, reported the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

After two deaths linked to the virus in Milwaukee County and Waukesha County, Dane County locals are wondering how the mosquito-borne West Nile could impact them.

"It's been so dry the mosquitoes haven't been out around my house or the parks," said Madison local Pat Lemire.

Experts said the mosquito season typically lasts from May to September, but the mosquito-borne virus is hitting Wisconsin later than normal because of the hot, dry summer.

Dane County Public Health collects larva from breeding sites each week from various locations, such as East Moreland Park.

"The number of biting, flood water, nuisance mosquitoes has been relatively low because it's been so dry,” said John Hausbeck, the Environmental Health Services supervisor at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. “But that doesn't mean there's no threat for West Nile virus."

Hausbeck said the larva is tested to see if it comes from the mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus. He said don’t panic, but do pay attention, especially to standing water around the outside of your home.

"The West Nile virus mosquito is one that lays it's legs right on the water so it doesn't take a lot of water to allow one of these mosquitoes to hatch out 500 or more larva,” said Hausbeck. “If you get rid of the containers holding water you're going to do a big part to reduce West Nile virus."

Even though the bugs have not been biting as much as past years, the health department advised Wisconsinites to avoid putting away their mosquito repellant for the season.

The health department also recommends wearing long sleeves and pants for those going outside at dusk and dawn, the times when mosquitoes tend to bite most.

Dane County’s only case was detected in late August when the person involved tried to give blood.