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West Nile virus found in Utah water, residents should take precautions

Published July 23, 2014 12:16 pm

Disease • There is no cure for humans, so prevention is the best way to avoid infection.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Mosquitos carrying the West Nile virus have been discovered in stagnant bodies of water in Box Elder and Uintah counties, though there are still no cases reported in Utah.

But officials from the Utah Department of Health are urging people to keep their guard up during the holiday weekend.

"There is no vaccine for humans. So, taking simple precautions to avoid mosquito bites is the key to reducing your risk for infection," UDOH epidemiologist JoDee Baker said in a statement.

The virus spreads through the bite of an infected mosquito, though not all of the insects have West Nile. The bugs are most active from dusk until dawn.

Usually West Nile causes flu-like symptoms and passes quickly, and 70 to 80 percent of people don't notice they're infected, according to the Center for Disease Control. Less than 1 percent of cases become serious with symptoms like a severe headache, stiff neck, disorientation, hospitalization, disability and sometimes death. Individuals at risk are elderly people and those with poor immune systems.

The best way to prevent bites is to use a repellent with at least 30 percent DEET — which should not be used on kids younger than two months. The health department also recommends wearing long sleeves and pants, removing any standing puddles around the home and reporting stagnant bodies of water to the Mosquito Abatement District, http://www.umaa.org/.