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Mosquito bite for West Nile virus

Like humans, wild animals can be exposed to West Nile virus and survive the exposure. Currently there is no evidence of humans becoming infected by consuming properly cooked birds or by handling birds. Research has shown dogs can be infected but are resistant to developing clinical signs of the disease and are considered an end host.

The first case of West Nile virus in 2018 has been found in Wisconsin.

The Department of Health Services said the virus was found in a dead bird in Columbia County.

"This case reminds us that West Nile virus is already active in Wisconsin this season, so we all need to take steps to prevent mosquito bites so we can keep from getting sick," said State Health Officer Karen McKeown in a release on Thursday.

Mosquitoes have been active already this year because of heavy rains and hot temperatures.

The virus is spread to humans by mosquitoes, after the insects feed on infected birds.

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DHS said Wisconsin had a higher than average number of all cases of West Nile virus in 2017, including cases involving humans, birds and horses.

Health officials recommend steps be taken to prevent mosquito bites, including limiting time outdoors at dawn and dusk, use insect repellent, keep screens in good repair, empty water-holding containers and trim tall grass and weeds.

Most people who get West Nile virus don't get sick, and those who do usually have mild symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle ache, rash and fatigue.

DHS said less than one percent of those who become ill get seriously ill, with symptoms of high fever, muscle weakness, stiff neck, disorientation, mental confusion, tremors, paralysis and coma.

West Nile virus surveillance will continue until the end of the mosquito season. Anyone finding a sick or dead crow, blue jay or raven should call the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline, 800-433-1610.

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