The North Shore Health Department announcement comes the same day at the Milwaukee Health Department announced that infected mosquitoes were detected in the city of Milwaukee. Wisconsin's first report of West Nile activity in 2013 came on June 21, when a dead bird tested positive in Washington County.
"The positive bird means that residents of the North Shore need to be more vigilant in their personal protective measures to prevent mosquito bites," said Jamie Berg, the health officer for the North Shore Health Department, in a news release Tuesday afternoon.
West Nile virus is spread to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes, which acquire the virus by feeding on infected birds.
"North Shore residents should be aware of West Nile virus and take some simple steps to protect themselves against mosquito bites," Berg said. "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 mosquitoes."
About 80 percent of those infected by the virus do not experience symptoms, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website. About 20 percent will experience mild symptoms such as "fever, headache, muscle pains, a skin rash, swollen lymph nodes and photophobia."
Less than one percent will experience severe symptoms such as "high fever, neck stiffness, extreme muscle weakness, tremors, convulsions or disorientation."
Here are some ways you can protect your family and community from West Nile virus:
- Using insect repellents when outside, especially during dawn and dusk
- Emptying any stagnant water (e.g., kiddie pools, bird baths, wheelbarrows)
- Clean roof gutters and downspouts for proper drainage
- Making sure no window screens have holes
- Trim tall grass, weeds and vines since mosquitoes use these areas to rest during hot daylight hours.
- Seeking treatment for children or older adults — or anyone with a compromised immune system — even when experiencing only mild flu symptoms
Wisconsin's Department of Health Services has monitored the spread of West Nile virus since 2001 among wild birds, horses, mosquitoes and people. During 2002, the state documented its first human infections and 52 cases were reported that year. During 2012, 57 cases of West Nile virus were reported among state residents – the highest annual number of cases since surveillance began in Wisconsin.
West Nile virus infections in humans have been reported from June through October, however most reported becoming ill with West Nile virus in August or September.