Utah currently free of West Nile, caution still urged

Utah currently free of West Nile, caution still urged

Despite recent rumors circulating in social media, there are no confirmed human cases of diagnosed West Nile Virus activity in the state of Utah as of Aug. 18. 

The year’s first case of mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus was confirmed near Riverdale earlier this summer. Officials from Weber County Mosquito Abatement expect more mosquitoes than usual this summer due to the unseasonably warm winter and rainy spring we experienced.

What is West Nile virus?

West Nile virus is vector-borne disease that is commonly transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. The virus is carried by mosquitoes and birds. Infected birds that develop high enough levels of the virus in their bloodstream can pass the virus to mosquitoes once bitten. These infected mosquitoes may also bite other mammals such as horses or humans; however, neither horses nor humans develop high enough levels of the virus in their bloodstream to pass on to other biting mosquitoes. 

Mosquitoes that carry the virus are most active between dusk and dawn. There are currently no medications or vaccines to prevent the virus.

What are the signs and symptoms?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 70-80 percent of people who become infected with West Nile do not develop any symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop signs and symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Some of the more severe neurological illness can include high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures or paralysis.

If you suspect that you have symptoms of the West Nile Virus, contact your health provider.

For more information on West Nile Virus, call the 75th Medical Group Public Health Flight at 801-586-9660; visit the Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html or the Utah Department of Health at http://health.utah.gov/epi/diseases/WNV/ .

The CDC and Weber County Mosquito Abatement recommend the following protective measures:

1. Use insect repellent that contains DEET.

2. Wear long shirts and pants from dusk to dawn.

3. Remove standing water from around yards and homes.

4. Make sure windows, doors and screens fit tightly without holes.

5. Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase pretreated clothing.

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