Bird tests positive for West Nile virus in Dane Co.

1st bird to test positive in Wis. this year
Bird tests positive for West Nile virus in Dane Co.

The first bird in Wisconsin to test positive for West Nile virus was found in Dane County.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said the bird recently tested positive but did not specify an exact time or location of where the bird was found.

Health officials said infected birds are an early warning that the virus is present in the area, and people should be more vigilant about protecting themselves against mosquito bites. Officials said very few mosquitoes actually carry the virus.

Despite the current drought conditions and low mosquito activity, public health officials said people need to take precautions to reduce their exposure to mosquitoes.

Health officials recommended people limit their time outside around dawn and dusk because that is when mosquitoes are most active. Apply insect repellent to clothing as well as exposed skin. Make sure all window screens are in good condition, so insects cannot get through. Make sure there are not an containers outside with standing water. Turn over things like wheelbarrows and wading pools when not in use. Change the water in birdbaths and pet dishes every three days. Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, saunas and hot tubs. Finally, officials told homeowners to trim tall grass, weeds and vines because mosquitoes use these areas to rest during the hot, daytime hours.

Most people infected with West Nile virus will not have any symptoms. If someone does fall ill, they will typically develop a fever, headache and rash that will last for a few days. Symptoms may begin between three and 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Older adults and those with weaker immune symptoms are at greater risk to develop a severe version of the disease. They can develop illnesses like meningitis, seizures and paralysis. There is no cure for West Nile virus, but the symptoms can be treated. Contact your health care provider if you think you have a West Nile infection.

Public health officials ask residents to notify them if they see a dead bird. Call the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 1-800-433-1610. You can find more information on West Nile virus here.

The Department of Health Services said there were 52 human cases reported in 2002 across the state. In 2011, only three cases were reported in Wisconsin and none in Dane County.