Wednesday , August 23, 2017 - 1:37 PM
West Nile virus first came to the United States in 1999, and Utah reported its first human case in 2003. Since then, the mosquito-carried illness has been common in the state.
Symptoms of the virus include headaches, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea and rashes, according to the Utah Department of Health, although most people infected won’t experience any symptoms.
In rare cases, the virus causes serious neurologic illness. Those over 50 years old or with compromised immune systems are most at risk.
“People send kids to school and kind of act like summer is over, but it’s not,” said Lori Buttars, public information officer for the Weber-Morgan Health Department.
There haven’t been any reported cases of humans infected with West Nile this year. But the danger of infection won’t pass until temperatures drop and mosquito populations plummet.
“We get to first freeze and we’re off the hook for another year,” said Brian Bennion, health department executive director.
Since West Nile is typically transmitted by mosquitoes, the best defense is bug control. The Utah Department of Health recommends mosquito repellent containing up to 30 percent DEET for adults and kids over 2 months old. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants provide extra protection.
“The mosquitoes that carry the virus are most active between dusk and dawn,” said Amy Carter, communicable disease nurse, in a press release. “It’s important to keep that in mind. If you are going to be outside during these hours, you should always have a container of mosquito repellant handy.”
Health officials also urge taking measures to control mosquito breeding around the home by eliminating pools of standing, untreated water.
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