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State health officials reactivate dead bird hotline

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin health officials have re-activated their statewide hotline to report dead birds to help keep track of the West Nile Virus, which hit the state hard last year.

Dead crows are often the first signs that people are at risk for the mosquito-borne illness.

Here’s the hotline number to report those dead birds – 1-800-433-1610. The dead birds are tested. If they have West Nile, insect control and other precautions are taken.

2012 was the worst on record for West Nile in Wisconsin with 54 human cases – six more than in 2002, when it first became a well-known health risk. Four Wisconsinites died from infected mosquitoes last year, the first such deaths since 2008.

The Centers for Disease Control also said 14 Wisconsinites had West Nile without knowing it until they gave blood. With that in mind, state officials say the best way to avoid West Nile is to prevent being bit by mosquitoes – and you’ll find tips on the state Health Services Web site, accessible at Wisconsin.Gov.

Besides the human cases, officials said 32 birds and one horse also died from West Nile last year. The illness hit the nation’s mid-section hard in 2012. But Wisconsin was relatively immune until late August and beyond.