Potentially deadly form of West Nile virus infects a Salt Lake County resident

(Jacquelyn Martin | AP file photo) In this file photo, adult mosquitoes are seen through a fluorescence microscope at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute's Insect Transformation Facility in Rockville, Md.

A Salt Lake County resident has been hospitalized with a potentially deadly form of West Nile virus — the first known case in the county this year, according to the county health department.

The unidentified adult has a neuroinvasive form of the virus — a more serious case seen in less than 1% of patients — which can result in long-term complications or death.

While it’s the first time West Nile is known to have infected a human in the county in 2019, the Salt Lake County Health Department said, the virus has been detected 21 times in mosquitos captured this year.

Symptoms of West Nile appear two to 14 days after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito and include fever, headache and body aches. More severe infections may include high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors and muscle weakness or convulsions, according to the department.

“There are a growing number of mosquitoes carrying the disease,” said Ilene Risk, epidemiology bureau manager, in a news release. “So it is now especially important that residents protect themselves from mosquito bites, particularly in the hours from dusk to dawn.”

Utahns are being urged to:

• Use EPA-registered mosquito repellent with DEET, permethrin, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

• Wear long sleeves and long pants after dusk.

• Drain any standing water and clean roof gutters.

• Clean and stock garden ponds with mosquito-eating fish.

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

• Keep grass and weeds cut short.

West Nile also has been detected in several other Utah counties this year, including Davis, Weber, Grand and Sevier. There were 11 human cases of the virus — and one death — reported in 2018. People over the age of 50 and those with weakened immune systems are the most at risk.