Bird Tests Positive for West Nile Virus in Sawyer County, Wis.

By KBJR News 1

Bird Tests Positive for West Nile Virus in Sawyer County, Wis.

July 31, 2013 Updated Jul 31, 2013 at 11:05 AM CDT

Sawyer County, WI (NNCNOW.com) --- Health officials say a dead bird in Sawyer County has tested positive for West Nile virus.

This is the first bird in the county that has tested positive since surveillance began back in May for the mosquito-transmitted virus.

One person in Dane County was diagnosed last week with the first West Nile case in humans in Wisconsin for this season. Health officials have also confirmed a total of 17 dead birds that tested positive for the virus throughout the state this year.

Infected birds serve as an early warning by indicating that West Nile is present in an area, underscoring the need for residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites.

The virus can spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito, but is not transmitted person to person.

Although few mosquitoes actually carry the virus, health officials say it is important to take steps to minimize your exposure during mosquito season:

- Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
- Apply insect repellant 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.
- Properly 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.

The Department of Health Services and Public Health will continue surveillance activities for West Nile in dead birds until October.

If you find sick or dead crows, blue jays and ravens in Wisconsin, you can contact the Dead Bird Hotline at 1-800-433-1610.

Posted to the web by Krista Burns