Public health officials from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and the Bear River Health Department (BRHD) verified the state’s first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) for 2012. The individual is a resident of Box Elder County, between the age of 18 and 39.
To date, there has been limited activity involving positive mosquito pools detected in northern Utah, but that 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. UDOH epidemiologist JoDee Baker says, “Prevention is simple and the disease can be severe, so it just makes sense to take precautions.”
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, but not all mosquitoes carry the virus. The mosquitoes that do carry the virus are typically out from dusk to dawn. So, when you’re outdoors during those times, it’s important to wear mosquito repellent that contains DEET or Picaridin, as well as long sleeved shirts and long pants. For adults and children between the ages of 2 months and 12 years old, use repellents containing up to 30 percent DEET. Remove any puddles or standing water around your home where mosquitoes can breed, including birdbaths, swimming pools, old tires and plant containers.
West Nile virus infections in humans are rare, but they do occur. Since 2003, there have been 327 verified human cases of West Nile virus in Utah, as well as eight deaths. 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 throughout the summer and fall.