Salt Lake and Washington counties report first human West Nile Virus cases of 2019

SALT LAKE CITY — Officials have reported this year's first human cases of West Nile Virus in Salt Lake County and Washington County.

An unidentified adult has been hospitalized after contracting a neuroinvasive form of the virus, the Salt Lake County Health Department announced Monday.

The neuroinvasive form of the disease can result in debilitating long term complications or death, a news release from Salt Lake County Health Department said. It is a severe form of the disease developed by less than 1 percent of West Nile Virus patients.

The Southwest Utah Public Health Department also announced Monday that a human case of the virus was also detected in Washington County. No hospitalizations were reported, however.

West Nile Virus has been detected in 21 mosquito pools around the county so far this year. A "mosquito pool" is a group of mosquitoes captured in the same trap, not a literal pool of water or swimming pool.

“There are a growing number of mosquitoes carrying the disease,” said Ilene Risk, SLCoHD epidemiology bureau manager, in the news release. “So it is now especially important that residents protect themselves from mosquito bites, particularly in the hours from dusk to dawn.”

Members of the public are urged to heed the following guidelines to reduce the risk of West Nile Virus exposure:

  • 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.

West Nile Virus is not transmissible from person to person.

The Southwest Utah Public Health Department said most people infected by West Nile Virus won't notice any symptoms, but some may experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache and body aches.

More serious cases can show symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiff neck, disorientation, confusion, coma, tremors and muscle weakness or convulsions.

Symptoms of the infection usually appear within 2 to 14 days, the Salt Lake County news release said.

The virus was first detected in the United States in 1999, and in Utah in 2003.

Eleven West Nile Virus cases, including one fatal case, were reported in Utah in 2018.

If you are experiencing symptoms of West Nile Virus, contact your healthcare provider.

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