West Nile virus confirmed in Box Elder County

Aug 6 2012 - 11:22pm

The state's first human case of West Nile virus has infected a Box Elder County resident.

The Utah Department of Health and Bear River Health Department confirmed the case Monday afternoon. The individual, who was not identified, is between the ages of 18 and 39.

There has been limited evidence of positive mosquito pools in Northern Utah, according to UDOH. However, that doesn't mean people should let their guard down.

"Prevention is simple and the disease can be severe, so it just makes sense to take precautions," said UDOH epidemiologist JoDee Baker.

West Nile is a potentially serious infection transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus tends to flare up in the summer and last through the fall.

It takes about three to 14 days after being bitten to start showing symptoms of the disease. Severe symptoms, which occur in about one of 150 infected people, include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. Twenty percent of people infected have milder symptoms, including fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and, occasionally, swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, back and stomach. Most people, approximately 80 percent, will show no symptoms at all.

West Nile in humans is rare, the UDOH reports, but it does occur. In Utah since 2003, 327 people have been confirmed with the infection, and eight people have died.

There are several ways to protect yourself from mosquito bites. UDOH recommends wearing mosquito repellent containing DEET or Picaridin, as well as wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, especially when outside between dusk and dawn. For children between the ages of 2 and 12, use repellents containing up to 30 percent DEET and do not spray children's hands, as they tend to put their hands in their mouths.

Install or repair window and door screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering the home. And, at least twice a week, empty water from flower pots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, tires, buckets, barrels and cans. It is also advised to unclog rain gutters.

The CDC also warns that vitamin B and "ultrasonic" devices are not effective in preventing mosquito bites.

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