Despite the high number of West Nile virus cases nationwide, Utah has recorded just three human cases so far, and only one of those residents is believed to have been infected within the state.
None of those cases were residents of Salt Lake County.
The virus is present in mosquitoes in Utah, so officials say the danger remains high. People are infected with West Nile through mosquito bites, though not all mosquitoes carry it.
Officials recommend the use of DEET to protect most individuals from the infected mosquitoes, which are typically present from dusk until dawn.
But some medical practitioners are concerned about the health implications of the chemicals.
"People should know DEET is hardly benign when they're smothering themselves and their children with it," said Brian Moench, an anesthesiologist and president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. "We are concerned about the use of pesticides and chemicals for the control of mosquitoes that have the potential to have some serious and long-term public health consequences."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommend DEET, and repellents with the active ingredient Picaridin. But the CDC says research also supports the effectiveness of pesticides with oil of lemon eucalyptus, also called PMD, or IR3535, which are developed from natural ingredients.
As of the end of August, nearly 1,600 cases have been reported across the country, the highest number since the virus was identified domestically in 1999. The vast majority of those cases have been found in Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Michigan.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received reports of 66 deaths from the virus this year.
More than 80 percent of people who contract the virus don't show any symptoms, but others have flu-like symptoms. A very small percentage become severely ill with diseases such as meningitis or encephalitis.
One possible reason for the low number of cases in Utah is that many people may have already been infected, with little to no consequence.
As West Nile concerns continue, the Salt Lake Valley Health Department is gearing up for flu season and once again offering early shots at public health centers, beginning Sept. 4.
Officials encourage residents to get the flu shots sooner than later because it may take several weeks for antibodies to develop. Flu season typically begins in October.
Though last year's flu season in Utah was not as severe as in the past 215 people were hospitalized statewide the season lingered. About 32 percent of those were people who had been immunized.
"We certainly did see cases clear into the spring and we had a late influenza peak," said Ilene Risk, an epidemiologist with the department.
Appointments must be made for the immunization, which costs $25 for the regular shot, $42 for the high dose (typically for 65-year-olds and older) and $32 for the nasal spray. Go to http://www.slvhealth.org for more information.
Other health departments across the state are also launching their flu immunization programs, including Weber-Morgan, Utah County and the Southwest Utah Public Health Department. Prices and availability vary.
The Utah County Health Department will offer flu shots starting at $24 in their clinics in Provo, American Fork and Payson, and at community clinics in American Fork, on Sept. 6. For the times and details about accepted insurance plans, visit http://www.UtahCountyHealth.org/flushots.
On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specifically urged parents of children with neurological disorders to get them vaccinated.
A disproportionately high number of such children died from influenza-related complications during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, according to a new CDC study.
Of the 336 children in the study who died, two-thirds had one or more underlying health conditions. The most common was a neurologic disorder such as cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, or epilepsy.
Immunization clinics in Salt Lake County
Salt Lake City Center
610 S. 200 East
Salt Lake City
Ellis R. Shipp Center
4535 S. 5600 West
West Valley City
South Main Center
3690 S. Main St.
Salt Lake City
9340 S. 700 East
Rose Park Center
799 N. Redwood Road, Suite A
Salt Lake City