UTAH (ABC4) – The first positive case of West Nile virus for 2022 has been confirmed in Utah by public health officials in Weber-Morgan Health District on Friday. Officials also stated two additional suspect human cases are currently under investigation in Weber and Uintah counties.
The first positive case was found in a man aged between 65 and 84 about a month after the West Nile Virus was found in mosquitoes in Utah. The man is currently in the hospital with the virus.
As of Sept. 1, 2022, 73 positive mosquito pools have been found across the state in Davis, Salt Lake, Tooele, and Uintah counties. Officials have also found two positive cases in horses in Uintah County.
“Mosquito season isn’t over and Utahns should continue to protect themselves from mosquito bites,” said Hannah Rettler, a vector-borne/zoonotic epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health and Human Services said. “Many more Utahns could become ill with West Nile virus if they don’t take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”
There were 28 reported human cases, including three deaths, related to West Nile virus in Utah through 2021. Since surveillance of the West Nile virus began in 2003, an average of 25 human cases have been confirmed in Utah each year, with a wide range between one and 158 cases.
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 over the age of 60 and those with certain medical conditions are at a greater risk of a serious illness.
The Utah Department of Health and Human Services says these are the best ways to protect you and your home from West Nile virus:
- Use insect repellent when you go outdoors. Repellents containing 20% to 30% DEET are recommended and safe to use during pregnancy.
- Limit outdoor activities from dusk to dawn, when mosquitos are most active.
- Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and socks in areas where mosquitos are active. Spray clothes with repellent for extra protection.
- Eliminate pools of water as much as possible as mosquitos lay their eggs in standing water. Empty water from pet dishes, flower pots, wading pools, backyard ponds, buckets, tarps, tires, and puddles at least once a week.
- Keep doors, windows, and screens in good condition and make sure they fit tightly.
- Report bodies of stagnant water to your local mosquito abatement district (visit www.umaa.org for a list).
If you or anyone who know develops symptoms of West Nile virus, including high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, disorientation, and confusion, see a healthcare provider.