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WAUKESHA - Mosquito season isn't over and Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and the Waukesha County Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) advise residents to continue protecting themselves against mosquito bites following the recent confirmation of this year’s first human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in a resident of Waukesha County.

The majority of WNV human cases in the state occur during the months of August and September, according to a HHS news release, however, the risk of contracting WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses is present anytime mosquitoes are active.

“It is important for people to be vigilant about preventing mosquito bites throughout the summer and early fall,” advised Benjamen Jones, Public Health Division Manager, Waukesha County Department of HHS, in the news release. 

The chances of a person contracting WNV are low. Most people infected with WNV will not have any symptoms. Those who become ill may develop a fever, headache, and rash that lasts a few days, according to the DHS and HHS.

Symptoms may begin between three to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. In rare cases, WNV can cause severe disease with symptoms such as muscle weakness, stiff neck, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, and coma. Older adults and people with compromised immune systems are at an increased risk of severe disease from the virus.

Related: First human case of West Nile Virus reported in Wisconsin this year

There is no specific treatment for West Nile Virus other than to treat symptoms. Persons concerned they may have West Nile Virus infection should contact their healthcare provider.

WNV is spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito and is not transmitted person to person. Although few mosquitoes actually carry the virus, tips to minimize your exposure and eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes include the following.

  • Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Apply an insect repellant with DEET, IR3535, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus to exposed skin and clothing.
  • Make sure window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquito entry.
  • Prevent mosquitoes from breeding 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, wading pools, boats, and canoes 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.
  • Landscape to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas, and trim tall grass, weeds, and vines since mosquitoes use these areas to rest during hot daylight hours.

Surveillance for West Nile Virus will continue until the end of the mosquito season.

For information on West Nile Virus: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/arboviral/westnilevirus.htm

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