How to protect your family from the deadly West Nile Virus

Local News

Right now, several places in Utah are seeing a spike in mosquitos testing positive for the West Nile Virus. Last week, someone in Salt Lake County even died from the disease. So how can you protect you and your family? Ilene Risk, Epidemiology Manager at the Salt Lake County Health Department, joined Brian Carlson, with the answer.

In recent weeks, our three mosquito abatement districts have seen a significant increase in the number of mosquitoes throughout the county testing positive for West Nile virus. West Nile only causes illness in about 20% of the people who are infected, and it’s usually a mild, flu-like illness.
But it can be deadly for a small percentage of those infected, so it is important to protect yourself from mosquito bites- particularly in the hours from dusk to dawn. This is when the species of mosquito that carries West Nile virus is most active.

Protect yourself by:

  • Using an EPA-registered mosquito repellent. Look for one with DEET, permethrin, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Wearing long sleeves and pants after dusk.
  • Draining standing water in yards (old tires, potted plant trays, pet dishes, toys, buckets, etc.).
  • Clearing gutters of debris.
  • Cleaning and stocking garden ponds with mosquito-eating fish or mosquito dunks. (Mosquito abatement can provide you with fish or dunks.)
  • Ensuring door and window screens are in good condition so mosquitoes cannot get inside.
  • Keeping weeds and tall grass cut short (adult mosquitoes look for these shady places to rest during the hot daylight hours).

With these tips, the Health Department is confident your family will stay healthy.

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