- The name sounds scarier than most of the symptoms would suggest, but doctors take West Nile virus seriously.
This week, a dead crow in Marathon County tested positive for West Nile. The Marathon County Health Department reported the discovery Monday. Counties look mainly at crows, blue jays, and ravens to find the virus. It is spread mostly through mosquito bites.
"Most people that do get West Nile don't get sick," said Rebecca Mroczenski, an epidemiologist in Marathon County. "About 80 percent of people don't even have any symptoms. Another 20 percent have fever, headache, fatigue, those types of symptoms. And then, less than one percent develop the more severe complications."
Symptoms of West Nile virus appear very similar to those of an extreme cold. Look for fever, headache, eye pain, and muscle aches. Those symptoms don't set in until three to 14 days after being infected. Experts say the best way to avoid the virus is to avoid mosquitoes.
"You'd want to avoid having places that collect water," said Mroczenski. "So bird baths should be cleaned and fresh water put in there every few days; containers that would collect water, like if you have a rain bucket, those things that sometimes people store upright, you want to flip so that water can't pool in them."
West Nile has also been found in birds in six other Wisconsin counties this year. Those cases were in the southern and western parts of the state.
If you have a dead bird in your yard, you should contact the Dead Bird Hotline at 800-433-1610. The hotline is open from May 1 through October 31.