The Washburn County Health Department reports a dead blue jay found in Washburn County has tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). This is the third year in a row that a dead bird in Washburn County has been found to be infected with WNV. “West Nile Virus appears to be here to stay” said Cheri Nickell, Washburn County Health Officer.

West Nile virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected birds. Dead blue jays, ravens, and crows act as an early warning system for WNV. “Finding the virus in birds indicates that West Nile Virus is present in the local mosquito population, and residents of Washburn County need to be more vigilant in their personal protective measures to prevent mosquito bites” said Nickell.

The Washburn County Health Department recommends 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. 

The majority of people (80%) 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. Less than 1% of people 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 central nervous system illness that can be fatal.

For more information, contact the Washburn County Health Department @  or visit the WI Dept. of Health Services website @

Last Update: Jul 13, 2018 1:10 pm CDT

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