WAUKESHA -– The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Waukesha County Department of Health & Human Services are advising residents to continue to protect themselves against mosquito bites due to the recent confirmation of this year’s first human case of West Nile Virus in a resident of Waukesha County.
The majority of West Nile Virus human cases in the state occur during the months of August and September. However, the risk of contracting WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses is present anytime mosquitoes are active.
“It is important for people to be vigilant about preventing mosquito bites throughout the summer and early fall,” advised Benjamen Jones, Public Health Division Manager, Waukesha County Department of HHS in a news release.
The Waukesha County Health Department says the chances of a person contracting West Nile Virus are low. Most people infected with WNV will not have any symptoms. Those who become ill may develop a fever, headache, and rash that lasts a few days.
Symptoms may begin between 3 to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. In rare cases, West Nile Virus can cause severe disease with symptoms such as muscle weakness, stiff neck, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, and coma. Older adults and people with compromised immune systems are at an increased risk of severe disease from the virus.
There is no specific treatment for West Nile Virus other than to treat symptoms. Persons concerned they may have West Nile Virus infection should contact their healthcare provider.
West Nile Virus is spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito and is not transmitted person to person.
The Waukesha County Department of Health & Human Services says the following tips will help minimize your exposure and eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes:
- 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, 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.
Since 2001, the Department of Health Services has monitored the spread of West Nile Virus 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 been reported from June through October.
For information on West Nile Virus, click here.