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Protect Yourself Against Mosquito Bites

August 8, 2007
For Immediate Release

A Joint Release from the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services and
Public Health for Madison and Dane County

State and local health officials are advising residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites as they announce today the first confirmed human case of West Nile virus in 2007 in Wisconsin.

The adult woman from Dane County was hospitalized with symptoms typical of WNV, including fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, nausea, vomiting, rash, and fatigue. She has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home. At this time, it is not known if this person contracted the illness in Dane County.

The chances of a person contracting WNV are very low and most people infected with West Nile virus will not have any symptoms. Those who do become ill may develop a fever, headache, and rash that lasts a few days. Symptoms may begin between three to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. In rare cases, WNV 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. If you think you have West Nile virus infection, contact your healthcare provider.

WNV is spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito and is not transmitted person to person. Although few mosquitoes actually carry the virus, tips to minimize your exposure include:

• Avoid being outside during times of high mosquito activity, specifically dawn and dusk
• Use effective mosquito repellant and apply according to the label instructions
• Keep window screens repaired so mosquitoes cannot enter your home
• Dispose of discarded tires, cans or other containers left outside that may contain standing water
• Turn over wading pools, hot tub covers, wheel barrows, boats and canoes when not in use
• Keep drains, ditches and culverts clean of trash and weeds so water will drain properly
• Clean gutters and downspouts to ensure they drain properly
• Change the water in bird baths, pet dishes and wading pools every 3-4 days
• Trim tall grass, weeds and vines since mosquitoes use these places to rest during hot daylight hours
• Landscape to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas
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In 2006, 21 Wisconsin residents developed WNV infection. So far this year, West Nile virus has been found in 11 birds and one horse in nine Wisconsin counties.

Both the Department of Public Health-Madison and Dane County and the Department of Health and Family Services will continue surveillance for West Nile virus until the end of the mosquito season.

To help with the surveillance effort, Madison and Dane County residents should report sick or dead crows and blue jays to the Dead Bird Hotline at 1-800-433-1610.

For more information regarding West Nile virus in Dane County and Wisconsin, please visit the websites indicated.

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  • John Hausbeck, 608-243-0331
  • Stephanie Marquis, 608-266-1683