OSHKOSH, WI --A routine screening during a blood donation detects the first confirmed case of West Nile virus in a human, in Winnebago County this year.
When a person donated blood at a local Red Cross blood bank, they had no idea they were sick.
Humans get sick with West Nile virus when we are bitten by an infected mosquito. Most of the time, people who suspect they are infected go to the doctor for treatment. It's rare to detect West Nile virus at a blood donation bank.
"We don't want certainly someone who needs blood to be coming down with West Nile virus which is what could have happened in this situation," said Denise Krueger with the Winnebago County Health Department.
Blood banks, like the Red Cross or the Community Blood Center in Appleton are required to screen donated blood before sending it to hospitals. Once donated, the blood is tested within 24 hours.
"Every blood donation is tested with over 15 different blood test, which covers 7 infectious diseases that are known to be transmitted through transfusion," said Dr. Todd Straus at the Community Blood Center.
West Nile virus has been detected in Winnebago County for the last 10 years.
Symptoms are similar to those of the flu. Health officials want people to know how to prevent it.
"Get rid of standing water in your yard, try not to have places for mosquitoes to breed and then use the repellents, dress appropriately," said Krueger.
Eighty percent of the time, people infected with West Nile show mild symptoms or none at all. But in a few cases, the virus can be deadly. Last year there were 21 confirmed cases of West Nile virus in humans across the state of Wisconsin.