A Kane County resident who contracted West Nile virus the first confirmed human case this year in Utah is recovering well, but health officials warn that warm temperatures mean the mosquito season could continue for a while.
The Southwest Utah Public Health Department, which provides services for five southern Utah counties, said mosquitoes, whose bites transmit the blood-borne virus, likely will hang around at least through October in the St. George area.
Utahns should take precautions, said Lisa Starr, a surveillance nurse with the department's Communicable Disease/Emergency Preparedness Division. These include the following:
• Use repellent (30 percent DEET).
• Wear long pants and sleeves.
• Avoid mosquito-infested areas.
• Avoid being outside at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are active.
West Nile virus symptoms can include sudden fever, fatigue, neck stiffness, disorientation, aches and pains, headache and rash or paralysis. People should seek medical attention right away if these symptoms come on fast, Starr said.
Two horses tested positive in September for the virus in Washington County, where mosquito pools also tested positive, said Dave Heaton, spokesman for the department, which serves Garfield, Iron, Kane, Washington and Beaver counties. In the Kanab area, heavy rains might have left more standing water than usual for mosquitoes to breed in, he said.
The disease isn't contagious, and only about 20 percent of those with the virus actually feel symptoms. "Most people who have been infected with West Nile never know it," Heaton said.
While the Kane County case is Utah's first this year, Arizona leads the nation in 2010 West Nile virus activity with 23 human cases and two deaths, he said.
The disease has been found in southwestern Utah since 2003. State statistics compiled since 2005 show the number of confirmed West Nile infections peaked in 2006 with 158 cases and five deaths.
First West Nile virus case confirmed
A Kane County resident recovering from West Nile virus is the first Utahn to contract it this year.
2009 • 2 cases; 0 deaths
2008 • 27 cases; 0 deaths
2007 • 70 cases; 2 deaths
2006 • 158 cases; 5 deaths
2005 • 52 cases; one death
Source: The Southwest Utah Public Health Dept.