Rushing floodwaters are making a horrible sound for many Top of Utah residents this year, but it's a "come-and-get-it" dinner bell to mosquitoes.
Heavy rainfall, late snowmelt and flooding are expected to produce a bumper crop of the pesky bugs this summer, and that has health officials concerned about an increase in West Nile virus.
"We haven't seen any cases of West Nile yet, but it's only going to be a matter of time," said Lori Buttars, Weber-Morgan Health Department public relations director.
"The flooding problems are just going to create a breeding ground for mosquitoes, and everyone needs to be on board with this."
Davis County Health Department Director Lewis Garrett said even though the mosquito-abatement teams have been doing a top-notch job so far, it's going to be a challenge to keep down the mosquito population this year.
"We've had such a wet spring, and there's a lot of standing water out there," he said.
"West Nile can be quite serious in a certain percent of the population, especially in the elderly, and sometimes it can be fatal. We are encouraging people to take the easy steps to protect themselves."
West Nile virus is carried by birds. When a culex tarsalis mosquito bites the bird, it picks up the infection and passes it on to humans, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Symptoms can begin showing two to 14 days after exposure. About 20 percent of the people infected will develop fever, headache, fatigue, body aches and occasionally a rash and swollen lymph glands.
Severe West Nile virus, which occurs in approximately one in 150 cases, can cause encephalitis, meningitis or poliomyelitis. Symptoms can include headache, high fever, stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, weakness and paralysis.
Most people who are infected will not become sick. However, because it's not known who will or will not become sick, it's best for everyone to take precautions.
"Prevention is still the best method of avoiding West Nile virus infection," Buttars said. "Use mosquito repellents with DEET or Picaridin, especially from dusk to dawn. Mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus are more active during this time."
Buttars and Garrett also said to use the repellent as directed. The more active ingredient the product contains, the longer it will protect.
Some products should not be used on children younger than 3, so check with your doctor or pharmacist first. Also, ask your veterinarian about ways to protect household pets.
"Flood workers, gardeners and farmers need to be vigilant about wearing long pants and shirt sleeves and using insect repellent," Buttars said. "Keep weeds and grass cut short so the mosquitoes don't have shady places to rest during the hot afternoons."
Check windows and doors to make sure windows and screens fit tightly, and change water regularly in birdbaths and outdoor pet dishes. Also, eliminate any standing water around your home in locations such as cans, old tires or poorly kept swimming pools.
Mosquitoes can also transmit other types of encephalitis, dengue fever, yellow fever and malaria.
"It's easier to protect yourself than to have to deal with an illness that may last weeks," Garrett said. "We're doing everything we can, but we strongly encourage the public to do their part in protecting themselves."