Take protective measures against mosquito bites

Salt Lake City—Even though no human cases of West Nile virus in Utah have been reported to date, the Utah Department of Health and Human Services says the virus has been found in mosquito pools in Davis, Salt Lake and Uintah counties. That means the risk of West Nile virus spreading to humans still exists. 

West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes and can cause illness in people and animals. While most people who get infected with West Nile virus will have no symptoms, some develop symptoms similar to the flu, including fever, headache, body aches, nausea, or rashes. In a small number of cases, people can develop a severe form of the virus, which can result in hospitalization and death. Symptoms of the severe form of West Nile virus include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, disorientation, and confusion. If you are experiencing symptoms, contact a healthcare provider immediately.

“West Nile virus has an annual presence in Utah and it isn’t going away,” according to Hannah Rettler, Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) vector borne/zoonotic epidemiologist. “Now is a good time to protect yourself from mosquito bites and work to eliminate mosquito breeding sites around your home,” adds Rettler.

Take these simple precautions to avoid mosquito bites and reduce your risk for infection.

  • Wear long-sleeves, long pants, and socks while outdoors and use an insect repellent with 20%-30% DEET, which is safe to use during pregnancy. Repellents are not recommended for children younger than two months of age.
  • The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur in the evening or early morning.
  • Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Remove any puddles of water or standing water including in pet dishes, flower pots, wading and swimming pools, buckets, tarps, and tires.
  • Report bodies of stagnant water to your local Mosquito Abatement District (MAD). Visit http://www.umaa.org/ for a list of MADs.
  • Keep doors, windows, and screens in good condition and make sure they fit tightly.
  • Consult with an immunization travel clinic before traveling to areas that may have mosquito-borne illness such as Zika or dengue and take the necessary precautions. 

West Nile virus surveillance will continue into early fall. You can find an updated weekly report at https://epi.health.utah.gov/west-nile-virus-reports/. For more information about West Nile virus, call your local health department or visit https://epi.health.utah.gov/west-nile-virus/.