DANE COUNTY, Wis. (WFRV) – The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), Public Health Madison, and Dane County have confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus in a Wisconsin resident this year.
Cases of West Nile virus have also been reported in three horses in Wisconsin and several mosquito pools. The horse cases were located in Dunn and Clark County, while the positive mosquitoes were from Milwaukee and Lafayette County.
“This confirmed case in a Wisconsin resident is a reminder that even as summer winds down, we still need to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites. 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,” said State Health Officer Paula Tran.
Since West Nile virus was first detected in Wisconsin in 2002, infections in humans have been reported from June through October.
Wisconsin reports an average of 17 human cases of West Nile virus every year. The risk of the infection continues all the way until the first hard frost of the year.
West Nile virus is spread to humans, horses, birds, and other animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes acquire the West Nile virus by feeding on infected birds. The virus is not spread directly from person to person, animal to animal, or animal to person.
80% of people who are infected with West Nile virus do not get sick. Those who do become ill usually experience mild symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle ache, rash, and fatigue.
However, less than 1% of people who become infected with the virus get seriously ill with symptoms that include high fever, 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. It is important that people contact a health care provider if they suspect they have West Nile virus illness.
The best way to avoid illnesses spread by mosquitoes is to reduce exposure to mosquitoes and eliminate mosquito breeding sites.