Mosquitoes are known to carry West Nile Virus and breed in stagnant water, with prevention the best defense. CDC image.
West Nile Virus Present in Wisconsin


Health officials urge everyone to protect themselves against mosquito bites

Chippewa Falls, WI—September 2, 2022 3:40 p.m. — The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Chippewa County Department of Public Health are reminding people to protect themselves from mosquito bites now that two animals in the state have tested positive for West Nile virus. A bird from Milwaukee County and a horse from Trempealeau County are the first report – ed infections in the state this year. No human cases of the virus have been reported yet in 2022.

“These cases are a reminder of the importance of taking precautions to protect ourselves from mosquitoes and the viruses they carry, which poses a risk to all Wisconsinites, especially to those who have weakened immune systems,” said State Health Officer Paula Tran. “By wearing insect repellent and eliminating standing water around our homes where mosquitos breed, we can help protect ourselves and our neighbors.”

The virus spreads to humans, horses, birds, and other animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected birds. The virus is not spread directly from person to person, animal to animal, or animal to person.

Those who become ill usually experience mild symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle ache, rash and fatigue. However, some people (less than 1%) 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 the virus. For those without a provider, help is available by dialing 211 or 877-947– 2211, or texting your ZIP code to 898-211 for free, confidential support.

The best way to avoid viruses spread by mosquitoes such as West Nile, Zika and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is to reduce exposure to mosquitoes and eliminate mosquito breeding sites. Mosquito activity and the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses will continue through the rest of the summer until there is a hard frost (temperatures below 28 degrees for at least four consecutive hours). These tips will help to protect yourself and your family against mosquito bites:

• 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 during the evening or early morning hours, when mosquitoes that spread WNV are most active.

• Wear long sleeves, long pants and socks outdoors to help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.

• Mosquito-proof your home. • Ensure window and door screens are intact and tightly fitted to prevent mosquitoes from entering 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.

September 14, 2022