West Nile virus detected in mosquitoes in Moab

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

MOAB, Utah, July 11, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes collected in Moab on July 2, officials said Thursday night.

A news release from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office said the mosquitoes were collected by┬áthe Moab Mosquito Abatement District in the Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve. Positive results were returned by the Utah Public Health Lab on July 11, the news release said.

“West Nile virus is transmitted by Culex mosquitoes that bite at night.” the news release said. “The peak flight time for the vector Culex mosquitoes is in the two hours after the first stars appear near sunset. Insecticide spraying (fogging) will be done at that time and in those areas where Culex numbers pose significant risk. In addition, the Matheson Wetlands are scheduled for an aerial larvicide treatment Sunday, July 14.”

The Mosquito Abatement District advises the following:

  • People should avoid mosquito bites after dark by wearing long sleeves that are brightly colored, long pants, and repellent.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients DEET: Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and Icaridin outside the US), IR3535, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), Para-menthane-diol (PMD), 2-undecanone. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • It is especially important to prevent night mosquito bites by having good window screens and by using a screened tent if sleeping outside.
  • Removing stagnant water, such as water in unmaintained swimming pools, hot tubs, wading pools, water filled buckets, livestock water troughs, and flood-irrigated fields will reduce mosquito populations.

If a person is infected by West Nile virus, the risk of serious disease is low, the news release said. Most of those affected will have a mild to severe flu-like illness with muscle aches, fever, rash, and headache that usually lasts a few days but can last months. In rare cases those infected may get meningitis or encephalitis, officials said. Those at greatest risk of serious disease are those with weakened immune systems, diabetes, high blood pressure, or kidney disease. The elderly are at greatest risk for severe complications, the news release said. The overall death rate is about one for every thousand infected individuals.

Horses are much more likely to suffer from the virus, but no properly vaccinated horse is known to have suffered significant illness from the virus. Contact your veterinarian about equine vaccination, the news release said.

“Crows, ravens, magpies, jays, hawks, eagles, and owls are often killed by West Nile virus,” the news release said. “If you see one of these birds behaving in an oddly sick manner, or find one fresh-dead for no apparent reason, contact Mosquito Abatement. The birds will not be collected, but their incidence can help determine the extent of West Nile virus activity.”

To report stagnant water or recently deceased birds or horses, call Mosquito Abatement at 435-259-7161.

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