The West Nile Virus has been detected in three counties in Northern Utah. It has not shown up in humans at this reporting but the Health Department is concerned about getting the word out that the virus has been detected and letting folks know that people and horses are more susceptible to the illness caused by the virus. Carolyn Murray has this:
West Nile Virus symptoms can look like a common cold…headache, fever, swollen lymph nodes. In rare cases, it can turn into meningitis which is a serious condition. In August last year, a Utah man died of meningitis believed to have resulted from West Nile. Summit County Health Department Nursing Director, Carolyn Rose says most people bitten by mosquitos carrying the virus don’t experience any symptoms.
“Most people who are healthy, and I will say most, not all, that get bitten by a mosquito that carries West Nile Virus, can have no symptoms at all. Other people will get a fever and some of those people get a fever high enough that it requires hospitalization. Some people who really can not fight it off at all get the neuro invasive disease that hospitalizes them and can actually kill them.”
West Nile first showed up in the US in birds in the Bronx Zoo and in dead crows in New York City. There was an uptick in West Nile Cases last year. Rose says it could be different weather conditions or the virus growing more resistant.
“It was 2007 when we first got our big surge of West Nile Virus because it took a while to come across the country. Last year, in 2017, we saw more human cases than we had for years, since about 2007.”
She says the Mosquito Abatement programs throughout the state are critical for keeping health departments informed about pools of active mosquitos.
“Mosquito abatement plays a big part in the surveillance of West Nile. They routinely test standing waters, certain pools like on wetlands, or ponds or creek sides. They monitor those starting in the spring throughout the fall. There have been two birds, a raven and a red tail hawk that have been tested and have been positive. They were in the areas where there were also the positive pools.”
Rose says most of the mosquitos in Summit County don’t carry the virus. She says the best ways to prevent mosquito bites is to be aware of standing water where they can breed, use Deet and wear long sleeves.
Go to the Utah Department of Health website for updates that show specific locations where pools are showing positive test results for the West Nile Virus. That’s health.utah.gov for more information.