Expect a big bumper crop of mosquitoes soon

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BELOIT - With lots of standing water due to a wet spring and warmer temperatures on the way, the mosquito population is likely to explode.

Health officials urge people to remove standing water from their yards and to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

"In the next couple of weeks, we will see the mosquito population increase significantly," said Rock County Public Health Department Environmental Health Director Rick Wietersen.

Mosquitoes can transmit a variety of diseases including West Nile virus. For several years in a row, bird populations in Rock County have tested positive for West Nile virus. In 2018, Rock County was one of 14 counties in Wisconsin to have a confirmed human case of West Nile virus. West Nile virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected birds.

Most people infected with West Nile virus do not feel sick. About one in five people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About one out of 150 infected people develop a serious or sometimes fatal illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control at https://www.cdc.gov/. Symptoms in these cases can include partial paralysis, stupor or coma.

The Rock County Public Health Department and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services will continue surveillance for West Nile virus throughout the mosquito season. To report a sick or dead crow, blue jay or raven, people can call the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 1-800-433-1610.

The best way to avoid West Nile virus is to reduce exposure to and eliminate the breeding ground for mosquitoes by limiting time outside when mosquitoes are most active, applying an insect repellent, making sure windows and door screens are in good repair, removing stagnant water from items around one's property, turning over boats and wheel barrows when not in use, changing water in bird baths and pet dishes and cleaning pools and draining water from pool covers.

Wietersen said the health department has been doing mosquito surveillance for the past two years because of their potential to transmit disease.

He said the surveillance was prompted because of concern over whether there could be mosquitoes which may transmit the Zika virus. Mosquitoes which could potentially transmit the Zika virus have been found in Dane County. None have been found in Rock County.

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