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West Nile Virus hits first Utahn this season

Published August 25, 2014 8:39 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Salt Lake County is reporting the first human case of West Nile Virus in the state this year.

The county says the individual, who was not identified, was diagnosed with West Nile fever, a less severe form of the virus.

Dagmar Vitek, the Salt Lake County Health Department's medical officer, said people should continue to protect themselves from mosquitoes.

"Until we see the first hard frost, mosquitoes will still be active and biting," Vitek said, according to a press release.

Infected mosquitoes spread the virus to people, as well as animals, through bites. It cannot be transmitted person to person. Few mosquitoes actually carry the virus.

Through Aug. 9, health departments through the state had found infected mosquitoes in 35 pools, but had found no infected horses, chickens or humans.

While 70 to 80 percent of those infected do not suffer any symptoms, according to the Utah Health Department, symptoms may include headaches, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea and rash. In more serious cases, symptoms may include high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors and muscles weakness or convulsions. West Nile Virus can lead to lifelong disability or death.

Symptoms typically appear within three to 14 days of infection.

The Salt Lake County Health Department suggests these actions to minimize the possibility of infection:

• Use mosquito repellents with DEET or picaridin when outdoors from dusk to dawn.

• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outdoors.

• Make sure window and door screens are in good repair.

• Drain standing water around the house, such as from old tires, buckets or wading pools.

— Kristen Moulton