The West Nile Virus has arrived in Dane County in the form of infected mosquitoes, though less than 1% of people infected with the virus will become seriously ill, according to a July 29 Public Health Madison and Dane County news release.

County health officials, who monitor mosquito traps across the county during the summer, said this is the first positive test for West Nile Virus in county mosquitoes this year. PHMDC Environmental Health Supervisor John Hausbeck said in the release the discovery “means residents need to continue their efforts to prevent mosquito bites to protect themselves from getting the virus,”

According to county health officials, 80% of people infected with West Nile Virus do not get sick, and those who do usually experience mild symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches and rash. Less than 1% of people infected get seriously ill, with symptoms including high fever, muscle weakness, stiff neck, disorientation, tremors and paralysis. Older adults and those with weakened immune systems are at greater risk of developing a case that can be fatal, according to the news release.

West Nile Virus is spread to animals through the bite of infected mosquitoes, which get the virus by feeding on infected birds. To prevent mosquito bites, county health officials recommend limiting time spent outside at dawn and dusk when they are more active, applying repellant to exposed skin and clothing and keeping windows and door screens in repair.

To monitor for West Nile Virus, the Wisconsin Division of Public Health asks that people report sick or dead crows, blue jays or ravens to the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 1-800-433-1610.