Utah health officials confirm state’s first human case of West Nile in 2022

Photo: U.S. Centers for Disease Control

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Sept. 2 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — State health officials have confirmed this year’s first West Nile virus case in a human.

The recipient is a male, aged 65 to 84, in the Weber/Morgan health department district, according to a press release Friday from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services. He is currently hospitalized with neuro-invasive West Nile virus.

The announcement comes about a month after WNV was found in mosquitoes in Utah, with two additional suspect human cases currently under investigation in Weber and Uintah counties.

In 2021, there were 28 reported human cases of West Nile virus in Utah, including 3 deaths, the UDHHS said.

In addition to the confirmed human case, as of September 1, 2022, 73 positive mosquito pools have been identified across the state in Davis, Salt Lake, Tooele, and Uintah counties, as well as two positive horses in Uintah County.

Hannah Rettler, vector-borne/zoonotic epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health and Human Services says, “Mosquito season isn’t over and Utahns should continue to protect themselves from mosquito bites.” Rettler continues, “Many more Utahns could become ill with West Nile virus if they don’t take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”

To protect yourself:

Use insect repellent when you go outdoors. Repellents containing 20% to 30% DEET are recommended and safe to use during pregnancy. For more information about insect repellents, visit the EPA information page. Always follow label directions.
Limit outdoor activities from dusk to dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and socks in areas where mosquitoes are active. Spray clothes with insect repellent for extra protection.

To reduce mosquitoes around your home:

Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water so eliminate pools of water as much as possible. Empty water from pet dishes, flower pots, wading pools, backyard ponds, buckets, tarps, tires, and puddles at least once a week.
Report bodies of stagnant water to your local mosquito abatement district (MAD). 
Keep doors, windows, and screens in good condition and make sure they fit tightly.

Rettler says most people infected with West Nile virus don’t have symptoms.

About 20% of infected people will have flu-like symptoms, while fewer than 1% develop a serious, potentially deadly illness.

People who are aged 60 years and older and those with certain medical conditions are at greater risk of serious illness.

See a healthcare provider if you develop symptoms of West Nile virus including high fever, severe headache and stiff neck, disorientation, and confusion, health officials say.

Since surveillance began in 2003, an average of 25 human cases of West Nile virus have been confirmed in Utah each year, with a wide range between 1 and 158 cases.

For more information about West Nile Virus, call your local health department or visit https://epi.health.utah.gov/west-nile-virus/.    


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