SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (WFRV) – The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has confirmed the first human case this year of West Nile virus (WNV) in a Sheboygan County resident.

West Nile virus is spread to humans, horses, birds, and other animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. Most people who are infected with the virus do not get sick, however, those who do become ill experience mild symptoms such as a fever, headache, muscle ache, rash, and fatigue.

Those who develop severe symptoms can get high fevers, muscle weakness, stiff neck, disorientation, mental confusion, tremors, confusion, paralysis, and coma.

Older adults and those with compromised immune systems are at greater risk of developing severe illness that can be fatal.

Cases of West Nile virus have also been reported in three animals throughout Wisconsin, two horses, and a bird. These animals were located in Trempealeau, Monroe, and Milwaukee County.

“This report of the first case of West Nile Virus in a person is a reminder of the continued importance of taking precautions to prevent mosquito bites and the viruses they carry as we move into the fall,” said State Health Officer Paula Tran. “While West Nile virus and other viruses spread by mosquitoes pose a risk to all Wisconsinites, people who have weakened immune systems are at the greatest risk for serious illness.”

Officials say the best way to avoid illnesses spread by mosquitos is to reduce exposure to mosquitos and eliminate mosquito breeding sites.

Avoid Mosquito Bites

  • Apply an insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 to exposed skin and clothing.
  • Prior to heading outdoors, treat clothing with permethrin; do not apply permethrin directly to the skin.
  • Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning hours, when mosquitoes that spread WNV are most active.
  • Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors to help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.

Mosquito-Proof Your Home

  • Make sure window and door screens are intact and tightly fitted to prevent mosquitoes from getting into your home.
  • Prevent mosquitoes from breeding around your home 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, kiddie pools, buckets, and small boats such as canoes and kayaks 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.
  • Trim or mow tall grass, weeds, and vines since mosquitoes use these areas to rest during hot daylight hours.

Since WNV was first detected in Wisconsin in 2002, infections in humans have been reported from June through October; however, most people with WNV report becoming ill in August and September.

To learn more about WNV and other diseases that can be spread by mosquitoes and how to protect yourself, visit the DHS website.