Bird tests positive for West Nile virus in La Crosse County

Published On: Dec 24 2013 05:53:31 AM CST   Updated On: Sep 13 2013 07:30:37 PM CDT
West Nile virus_mosquito

A dead crow found in La Crosse County has tested positive for West Nile virus on August 30.

The La Crosse County Health Department said this is the first bird that has tested positive in the county since surveillance for the mosquito-transmitted virus began May 1.

“The positive bird means that residents of La Crosse County need to be more vigilant in their personal protective measures to prevent mosquito bites,” La Crosse County Public Health Director Doug Mormann said in a statement.

The health department said the West Nile virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitos get the virus by feeding on infected birds.

About 80-percent of the people who are infected with West Nile virus do not get sick, the health department said. Those who do become ill usually experience mild symptoms, like fever, headache, muscle ache, rash and fatigue.  Less than one-percent of people with the virus get seriously ill with symptoms like high fever, muscle weakness, stiff neck, disorientation, mental confusion, tremors, confusion, paralysis and coma.

“The West Nile virus seems to be here to stay, so the best way to avoid the disease is to reduce exposure to and eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitos,” Mormon said.

The La Crosse County Health Department recommends the following:
• Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
• Apply insect repellant to clothing as well as exposed skin 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.

To report a sick or dead crow, blue jay, or raven, please call the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 1-800-433-1610.