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Crow Tests Positive for West Nile Virus in Vilas County

Vilas County Public Health Department reports a dead crow found in Vilas County last Tuesday (8/9/16) has tested positive for West Nile virus.  This is the first bird that tested positive for West Nile virus in Vilas County this year.

West Nile virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected birds. 

Take some simple steps to protect yourself against mosquito bites and limit exposure from mosquitoes.  Also, get rid of breeding grounds for mosquitoes.  The Health Department recommends the following steps:

  • Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Use insect repellant on clothing as well as exposed skin since mosquitoes may bite through clothing.
  • Make sure window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquito entry.
  • Properly throw away items that hold water, such as tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, or discarded tires.
  • Clean roof gutters and downspouts for proper drainage.
  • Turn over wheelbarrows, wading pools, boats, and canoes when not in use.
  • Change the water in birdbaths and pet dishes at least every three days.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs; drain water from pool covers.
  • Trim tall grass, weeds, and vines since mosquitoes use these areas to rest during hot daylight hours.
  • Landscape to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas.

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 and muscle aches,
  • rash, and
  • fatigue (being tired).

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 weak immune systems have a greater chance to develop a central nervous system illness that can lead to death.

The Department of Health Services has monitored the spread of West Nile virus since 2001 among wild birds, horses, mosquitoes, and people.  During 2002, the state documented its first human infections and 52 cases were reported that year. During 2015, 9 cases of West Nile virus infection were reported among Wisconsin residents.West Nile virus infections in people have been reported from June through October; however, most reported becoming ill with West Nile virus in August and September.

The Wisconsin Division of Public Health will continue surveillance for West Nile virus until the end of the mosquito season. To report a sick or dead crow, blue jay, or raven, please call the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 1-800-433-1610. 

For more information on West Nile virus:


Celebrate National Farmers' Market Week!

August 7 – 13, 2016


Are you looking for fresh, local produce?  Northwoods LEAN (Linking Education, Activity and Nutrition) and the Vilas County Health Department would like to celebrate National Farmers’ Market week.  Farmers markets are an excellent way to provide consumers with healthy, fresh, affordable and convenient, locally grown food. 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack stated, “Farmers markets are an important part of strong local and regional food systems that connect farmers with new customers and grow rural economies.  In many areas, they are also expanding access to fresh, healthy food for people of all income levels.  National Farmers Market Week recognizes the growth of these markets and their role in supporting both urban and rural communities.”  This year marks the 17th annual National Farmers’ Market Week!

The best news is Northwoods Farmers’ Markets will be running until mid-October so there’s plenty of time for you to reap the benefits of the market.  With several locations throughout Oneida and Vilas County there’s sure to be one for you. 

  • Eagle River Farmers’ Market (runs through 10/15/16)
    • Wednesdays; 8:30am – 1:00pm just north of the bridge on HWY 45
    • Sundays; 10am – 2pm just north of the bridge on HWY 45
  • Minocqua Farmers’ Market (runs through 10/14/16)
    • Mondays; 3pm – 6pm at the north end of Torpy Park – HWY 51
    • Fridays; 8am – 1pm at the Minocqua Park Complex – HWY 70 W
  • Hodag Farmers’ Market (runs through 10/15/16)
    • Saturdays; 8am – 1pm at Pioneer Park in Rhinelander

For more information on Farmers’ Markets visit and click on the “what’s new” tab. 


Swimmer's Itch

What is swimmer’s itch (also called cercarial dermatitis)?

Is an allergic reaction that looks like a skin rash caused by certain microscopic parasites.  These parasites are released from snails into fresh and salt water (such as lakes, ponds, and oceans). The parasite prefers to live inside specific birds or mammals, such as a duck or snail.  But if the parasite comes into contact with a swimmer, it digs into the skin which causes the allergic reaction and rash. 

How does water become infested with the parasite?

Adult microscopic parasites live in the blood of animals such as ducks, geese, gulls, swans, and certain mammals such as muskrats and raccoons.

1. The parasites make eggs that are passed in the feces of the birds or mammals.

2. If the eggs land in or are washed into the water, the eggs hatch, releasing small, free-swimming microscopic larvae.

3. These larvae swim in the water in search of a certain type of aquatic snail.If the larvae find one of these snails, they infect the snail.  There they multiply and undergo further development.

4.  Infected snails release a different type of microscopic larvae (or cercariae) into the water. This larval form then swims about looking for a suitable host (bird, muskrat) to continue the lifecycle.

5.  Although people are not the right hosts for these microscopic larvae, they will still dig into the swimmer’s skin.  This causes an allergic reaction and rash. Because these larvae cannot develop inside a person, they soon die. 

What are the signs and symptoms of swimmer’s itch?

      • Tingling, burning, or itching of the skin – within minutes to days after swimming.
      • Small reddish pimples – within 12 hours.
      • Small blisters – may develop.

Scratching the areas may result in secondary bacterial infections. Itching may last up to a week or more, but will gradually go away.

 Do I need to see my health care provider for treatment?

Most cases of swimmer’s itch do not need medical attention. If you have a rash, you may try the following for relief:

      • Use corticosteroid cream.
      • Apply cool compresses to the rash.  
      • Bathe in Epsom salts or baking soda.
      • Soak in colloidal oatmeal baths.
      • Apply baking soda paste to the rash (made by stirring water into baking soda until it reaches a paste-like consistency).
      • Use an anti-itch lotion.

Try very hard not to scratch.  Scratching may cause the rash to become infected. If itching is severe, your health care provider may suggest prescription-strength lotions or creams to lessen your symptoms.

Can swimmer’s itch be spread from person-to-person?

You cannot get swimmer’s itch from another person.

Who is at risk for swimmer’s itch?

      • Anyone who swims or wades in water where there is swimmers itch.  Larvae are more likely to be in shallow water by the shoreline.
      • Children, who tend to swim, wade, and play in the shallow water.  They are also less likely to towel dry themselves when leaving the water.

What can be done to prevent swimmer’s itch?

      • Do not swim in areas where swimmer’s itch is a known problem or where signs have been posted.      
      • Do not swim near or wade in marshy areas where snails are commonly found.
      • Towel dry or shower right after leaving the water.
      • Do not attract birds (e.g., by feeding them) to areas where people are swimming.


Tips to Avoid Child Heatstroke


Always Look Before You Lock

      • Always check the back seats of your vehicle before your lock it and walk away.
      • Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child's car seat when it's empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat.
      • If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely.

 Keep in Mind a Child's Sensitivity to Heat

      • In 10 minutes, a car's temperature can rise over 20 degrees.
      • Even at an outside temperature of 60 degrees, the temperature inside your car can reach 110 degrees.
      • A child dies when his/her body temperature reaches 107 degrees.

 Understand the Potential Consequences of Kids in Hot Cars

      • Severe injury or death.
      • Being arrested and jailed.
      • A lifetime of regret. 

For more information, visit Parents Central website


Zika virus

Zika virus is a virus that most commonly comes from the bite of a certain type of mosquito.  It has been seen in high numbers in most of the Caribbean and the northeastern parts of South America.There isn't any known spread of the Zika virus due to mosquitos in the continental United States.

The virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms or signs of Zika virus disease are:

      • Fever,
      • Rash,
      • Joint pain, and
      • Conjunctivitis (red eyes).

Only about 20% of people with Zika virus feel sick, so they may not know they have the virus in their body. If a person gets sick, it will happen anywhere from a few days to a week after coming into contact with the virus. Although Zika virus may not be harmful to the person who gets ill, it may have serious side effects on the developing baby, if a woman who is pregnant is infected with the Zika virus.

The Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly and other serious brain anomalies.  However, all the health effects of Zika virus infection during pregnancy is not yet known.  The CDC is continuing to study Zika virus.

In addition to spreading through the bite of an infected mosquito, Zika virus is also spread through sexual contact. For men that have traveled to areas where Zika virus is common, they should avoid sexual contact with any pregnant partners or use a condom with any sexual contact until their partner is no longer pregnant. Women traveling to areas where Zika virus is present are encouraged to avoid becoming pregnant until after travel. If women are currently pregnant, they should consider not traveling to these areas until no longer pregnant. 

If you have traveled to an area that has Zika virus in the past 2 weeks and feel ill, or you traveled while pregnant, contact your medical provider for follow up. For more information:

"If You See Something, Say Something™"

"If You See Something, Say Something™" is a national campaign to prevent crimes of terrorism.  Not only does the campaign raise awareness on possible crimes related to terrorism, it stresses the importance of reporting suspicious activites to law enforcement.

Informed, alert communities play a critical role in keeping our nation safe.  To report suspicious activity, contact your local law enforcement agency. Describe with as many details as you can what you saw and include:

      • Who or what you saw;
      • When you saw it;
      • Where it occurred; and
      • Why it's suspicious.

If there is an emergency, call 9–1–1.  For more information on the campaign visit: