Bird tests positive for West Nile virus in Dane County

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MADISON — A bird recently tested positive for West Nile virus in Dane County, the first to do so in Wisconsin this year.

West Nile virus is spread to people and horses through the bite of an infected mosquito. People must be bitten by an infected mosquito in order to contract the virus. Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile virus by feeding on infected birds and then potentially transmit the virus by biting other animals or people.

Despite the current drought conditions and low mosquito activity, the positive West Nile virus finding emphasizes the ongoing need to take precautions against mosquito bites. Follow these measures to help reduce exposure to mosquitoes and prevent West Nile virus infection:

  • 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.
  • ┬áLandscape to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas.

Statewide surveillance activities for West Nile virus began May 1st.

People who find a dead bird in their yard or who have a question about a dead bird should call the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 1-800-433-1610.