(Salt Lake City, UT) – Public health officials from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and the Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) say the first human case of West Nile virus in Utah for 2013 has been identified in Washington County. Washington County has also reported the first positive case of West Nile virus in a horse.
To date, most of the activity involving positive mosquito pools has been detected in southwestern Utah, but that doesn’t mean West Nile virus isn’t present in other parts of Utah. UDOH epidemiologist JoDee Baker warns, “There is no vaccine for humans. So, taking simple precautions to avoid mosquito bites is the key to reducing your risk for infection.”
While West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, not all mosquitoes carry the virus. The mosquitoes that carry the virus are typically out from dusk to dawn. When you’re outdoors during those times, it’s important to follow these guidelines:
• Use mosquito repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus when outdoors. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that repellents should contain no more than 30% DEET when used on children. Insect repellents also are not recommended for children younger than two months of age.
• Wear long sleeved shirts and pants while outdoors.
• Remove any puddles or standing water around your home where mosquitoes can breed, including birdbaths, swimming/wading pools, old tires, buckets and plant containers.
• Report bodies of stagnant water to the local Mosquito Abatement District (MAD). Visit http://www.umaa.org/ for a list of MADs.
• Contact a veterinarian for information on vaccinating horses.
While most people infected by this virus won't notice any symptoms, some people may experience flu-like symptoms or worse. The elderly and people with poor immune systems are at higher risk for symptomatic disease. The most serious cases can lead to hospitalization, disability, or death. Symptoms of the severe form of West Nile virus include: high fever, severe headache and stiff neck, disorientation and confusion. If you are experiencing symptoms of West Nile virus, please contact your healthcare provider immediately.
West Nile virus surveillance in Utah is underway and will continue into the fall. For more information, call your local health department or visit www.health.utah.gov/wnv. Throughout the West Nile virus season, the UDOH web site will be updated each Wednesday with available detection information.