Communicable Diseases

Communicable Diseases

Brian Judd

This 2009 photograph captured a sneeze in progress, revealing the plume of salivary droplets as they are expelled in a large cone-shaped array from this man’s open mouth, thereby, dramatically illustrating the reason one needs to cover hios/her mouth when coughing, or sneezing, in order to protect others from germ exposure.

How Germs SpreadIllnesses like the flu (influenza) and colds are caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. The flu and colds usually spread from person to person when an infected person coughs or sneezes.How to Help Stop the Spread of GermsTake care to: - Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough -  Clean your hands often - Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth -  Stay home when you are sick and check with a health care provider when needed - Practice other good health habits.
A little kid in the green sweater washes his hands

What does the health department do?

  • Detect and report cases of significant infectious disease.
  • Investigate the circumstances of each case.
  • Provide pertinent information to families and communities.
  • Recommend and implement measures to control the spread of disease.

The following link provides information about communicable diseases compiled by the Wisconsin Division of Public Health: Communicable Disease Fact Sheets.

West Nile Virus

Mosquito sucking blood, macro photo
Young boy spraying insect repellents on his leg in the garden with spray bottle

What is West Nile Virus (WNV)?

The West Nile virus is a virus transmitted to humans by mosquito bites.

What are the symptoms of WNV?

The West Nile virus produces symptoms in people ranging from mild to severe.  Approximately 80% of people infected with West Nile virus do not become ill.  Please read the West Nile Virus Fact Sheet.

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of the West Nile virus infection, especially if you may have had contact with mosquitos.  If you are severely ill, go to the emergency room.

What has WNV got to do with birds?

In nature, mosquitoes become infected with WNV by feeding on infected birds and can transmit the virus to other animals, birds, and humans.

Dead Bird Reporting

As of January 2020, the Division of Public Health no longer collects dead birds for West Nile virus testing. Due to this change, the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline (800-433-1610) has been disconnected.

What should I do if I find a dead bird?

Please refer to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Health Program for instructions on what to do if you find a dead bird. If you are told to dispose of the bird’s carcass, don’t handle it with your bare hands. Use gloves or an inverted plastic bag to place the carcass in a garbage bag, which can then be placed in your regular trash.


Useful Links:


Bat hanging upside down on the tree.

What is rabies?

Rabies is a disease that affects the brain. It´s usually passed from animal to animal but it can be passed from animals to people. In the United States, raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats are the main animals that get rabies.  Please read the Rabies Fact Sheet.

How do you know if an animal has rabies?

You can´t tell if an animal has rabies by just looking at it. A clue though is if the animal is acting strangely.

What should I do if I get bitten by an animal?

You should immediately wash the animal bite or scratch with liberal amounts of soap and water. Contact your health care provider immediately.

Rabies is deadly, so all bites and scratches from a suspect animal must be reported to local authorities.

Bat bites are often undetectable on people. If you find a dead bat in your house, you should contact the Health Department at 608-329-9390.