Officials: First human cases of West Nile Virus for 2017 reported in Wisconsin

MADISON — State and local health officials announced on Monday, August 21st that they confirmed the first 2017 human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) in residents of Oconto and Fond du Lac Counties.

The majority of WNV human cases in the state occur during the months of August and September. However, officials say the risk of contracting WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses is present anytime mosquitoes are active, so it is important for people to be vigilant in their personal protective measures to prevent mosquito bites throughout the summer and early fall.

West Nile virus

Officials said in a news release that 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.

Testing for West Nile Virus in Milwaukee

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, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and your local health department recommend that you follow these tips to minimize your exposure and eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes:

  • Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Apply an EPA-registered insect repellant to exposed skin and clothing since 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.
  • Clean roof gutters and downspouts for proper drainage.
  • Turn over wheelbarrows, wading pools, boats, and canoes when not in use.
  • 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 since mosquitoes use these areas to rest during hot daylight hours.
  • Landscape to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas.

DHS is expected to continue surveillance for West Nile virus until the end of the mosquito season.