Salt Lake County resident diagnosed with season’s first case of West Nile Virus

The Culex mosquito is one variety found in Utah that can carry the West Nile Virus. Photo: Wikipedia Commons

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah, Aug. 16, 2016 (2016) — The Salt Lake County Health Department has revealed the season’s first case of the West Nile virus in the county has been confirmed.

The infected individual was diagnosed with neuroinvasive West Nile virus, a more severe form of the disease, and remains hospitalized.

Health officials say this is a reminder that the mosquito-spread disease that Utahns should worry about more than Zika is West Nile Virus. In the decade since WNV has been circulating in Utah there have been 349 people known to be infected, 9 of whom died.

“With much of the attention on Zika, it is important to remember the more prevalent threat of West Nile virus (WNV) in Utah,” said Dr. Dagmar Vitek, Salt Lake County Health Department medical director.

“The mosquitoes that transmit Zika do not currently live in Utah, but two mosquito species that carry and transmit WNV do.”

West Nile Virus can cause mild to severe illness, and people may not even know they have been infected. It is estimated that less than one percent of people infected with WNV will develop neuroinvasive disease, which can result in debilitating long-term complications or death.

According to the Salt Lake County Health Department, symptoms of West Nile Virus appear within three to 14 days and include fever, headache and body aches. Severe infections may include high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors and muscle weakness or convulsions.

People age 50 and older and people with weakened immune systems are at the highest risk of illness due to West Nile Virus, but anyone can become ill from the bite of an infected mosquito.

There is no specific treatment for West Nile Virus infection other than to treat symptoms. If you think you have the infection, contact your health care provider.

The Health Department recommends minimizing risk of exposure by:

• Using a repllent that containts DEET or picaridin when outdoors from dusk to dawn.
• Wearing a long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outdoors.
• Making sure window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquito entry.
• And draining standing water around your house to reduce the number of mosquitoes. Water may collect in old tires, buckets, wading pools, etc.

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