(Salt Lake City, UT) – Public health officials across Utah are reminding all residents who will be outside over the holiday to protect themselves from mosquito bites. So far, no human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) have been reported in Utah, but four positive mosquito pools have been identified in four counties.
West Nile virus activity has been detected in a mosquito pool in Weber County. Even though no human cases of West Nile virus have been reported, public health official urge Utahns to avoid complacency. 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.
“The best way to reduce your risk is to use an insect repellent with DEET when you’re outside,” says Baker. Adults and children older than 2 months of age can safely use repellents that contain up to 30% DEET,” Baker added. Repellents are not recommended for children younger than 2 months of age.
Other precautionary measures include:
· 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 health care 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.
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