State Activates Dead Bird Reporting Hotline to Track West Nile Virus

Posted Tuesday, July 19, 2011 --- 12:38 p.m.

Press Release from the Jefferson County Health Dept:

Jefferson County residents who find a dead bird can now contact the Wisconsin Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 1-800-433-1610 to assist in tracking the West Nile Virus incidence in the county.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Public Health, has been monitoring for West Nile Virus since 2001. Since that time, there have an average of 13 human cases of WNV each year with no cases thus far in 2011. Because dead birds serve as a warning that WNV may be present in the local mosquito population, the Wisconsin Dead Bird Reporting Hotline was reactivated as of May 1st. Anyone who observes a dead bird is encouraged to call the toll-free hotline. You will need to provide the hotline with your demographic information and a description of the dead bird. Hotline staff will answer questions regarding safe handling and disposal of dead birds—dead birds should never handled with bare hands. It is not necessary for all birds to be tested, but, if testing of the bird is indicated, arrangements will be made for fee-exempt testing at the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene.

West Nile Virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne illness that is most common in late summer. In nature, WNV circulates between mosquitoes and birds; horses and humans become “accidental hosts” to the virus when they are bitten by an infected mosquito. In most cases, an infected person will show no symptoms.

About 20% of people will have mild symptoms that include fever, swollen lymph nodes, rash, headache and body aches; less than 1% of people will develop a severe, potentially fatal illness. Children, older adults and anyone with a compromised immune system are most at risk for severe infection. Symptoms of WNV appear 3 to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito and usually last only a few days. There is no treatment specific to West Nile Virus, but once a person has been infected, they are immune for life.

According to Dr. Henry Anderson, State Health Officer, “the best way to prevent West Nile Virus is to prevent mosquito bites.” Some basic principles of mosquito control include: covering up with long pants and long sleeves, especially if you are outside at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active; wearing insect repellant; eliminating standing water; and maintaining the yard so as to limit brushy overgrowth.

Additional information about West Nile Virus can be found on the Center for Disease Control’s website at or contact the Jefferson County Health Department at 920-674-7275.

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