Second human case of West Nile virus found in Box Elder County

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

BOX ELDER COUNTY, Utah, Sept. 10, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — A second human case of West Nile virus has been confirmed in Box Elder County.

According to a news release from the Box Elder Mosquito Abatement District, it was notified of the non-fatal case by the Bear River Health Department.

“We have now had two different cases in the county; the first of which was neuro-invasive,” the news release said. “We want the county to be aware that September has shown to be a very active month for West Nile virus. Please continue to take precautions.”

The District was also recently informed by the Utah State Public Health Laboratory that three more mosquito pools, or samples, tested positive for West Nile virus in the county. These pools came from three different traps in the county; one in West Corinne near mile marker five on Highway 83, another nearby at the intersection of 7600 West and 2400 North, also in West Corinne, and the last from the Calls Fort Cemetery in Honeyville.

“We have now had 23 positive pools in Box Elder County this year,” the news release said. “The virus has been confirmed in 11 different traps by those 23 separate pools, but it is possible that the virus could be more widespread at this point.”

The Salt Lake County Health Department announced the state’s first death due to West Nile virus in 2018 in Salt Lake County on Aug. 22.

The deceased individual, who was over the age of 65 and suffered from other health concerns, was diagnosed with neuro-invasive West Nile virus, a more severe form of the disease, the health department said in a news release.

The individual was not identified due to medical privacy laws.

Although only some mosquitoes carry West Nile, there is no way for residents to tell which mosquitoes may be infected, so it is important to minimize exposure opportunities during mosquito season, by following these guidelines:

  • Use an EPA-registered mosquito repellent with DEET, permethrin, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus; follow package directions about application.
  • After dusk, wear long sleeves and pants
  • Drain standing water in yards (old tires, potted plant trays, pet dishes, toys, buckets, etc.).
  • Keep roof gutters clear of debris.
  • Clean and stock garden ponds with mosquito-eating fish or mosquito dunks.
  • Ensure door and window screens are in good condition so mosquitoes cannot get inside.
  • Keep weeds and tall grass cut short; adult mosquitoes look for these shady places to rest during the hot daylight hours.

Most people with West Nile virus may not know they have been infected. About 20 percent of people infected with the virus will develop West Nile fever, a mild illness that lasts between three and six days and is characterized by fever, headaches and body aches. Less than 1 percent of people infected will develop West Nile neuro-invasive disease, which can result in high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness, convulsions or death.

Symptoms of the infection usually appear within three to 14 days after exposure. There is no specific treatment for West Nile virus infection other than to treat symptoms. If you think you have West Nile virus infection, contact your health care provider.

People over age 50 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.

Last year, six Utahns died from West Nile virus.

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