Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Late Season Mosquitoes May Pose a Health Risk

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Fall may be only a few weeks away, but it’s still important to protect yourself from summer’s well-known pest, the mosquito.  Last week, a human case of West Nile virus was reported in Salt Lake County and with this week comes confirmation of a horse infected with the illness in Iron County.
To date, all of the activity involving positive mosquito pools, and horse and human exposure, has been linked to southern Utah, but officials say just because it hasn’t been detected in the northern part of the state, doesn’t mean it isn’t here.  The best way to reduce your risk of contracting West Nile virus is to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites like wearing insect repellent.  UDOH epidemiologist Melissa Stevens Dimond says, "When prevention is simple and the disease can be severe, it just makes sense to take precautions."
It’s a good idea to apply an insect repellent that contains DEET when doing any outdoor activity between dusk and dawn.  (Mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus are most active during those hours.)  For adults, use repellents containing up to 35% DEET.  For children 2 months to 12 years, use repellents containing up to 10% DEET.  You might also consider wearing clothing with long sleeves and long pants while enjoying outdoor activities in the evening, along with removing any puddles or stagnant water around your home where mosquitoes can breed.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 80 percent of people infected with West Nile virus never show symptoms.  If you have symptoms, including high fever, severe headache and stiff neck, contact your health care provider immediately.  Though anyone can be infected and become ill, severe illness or death is more common in people over age 50. 
For more information visit the UDOH website at

Media Contact:Charla Haley
Public Information Specialist
(801) 538-6710