Health officials say West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitos in Utah. But so far, no human cases have been reported. The virus has been found in mosquito pools in Box Elder and Uintah counties. Rebecca Ward with the Utah Department of Health says humans who contract the virus may not necessarily develop symptoms, but it can be very serious, particularly for those with compromised immune systems.
“People that have a serious illness – their systems are already weakened - so if they’re bitten, they may be more likely for them to develop some of these symptoms, such as a stiff neck, and confusion, and muscle fatigue, and it actually can progress into encephalitis… and it can cause death,” Ward says.
It’s too soon to tell if it will be a bad year for West Nile. “There’s no way to predict that we’re actually going to see a great influx of mosquitos or even the number of cases in humans that occur," Ward says. "That’s why it’s really important to talk about prevention because there is no vaccine, and there is no treatment for West Nile virus.”
Not all mosquitos carry the virus, and those that do are usually out from dusk to dawn. The health department recommends the use of insect repellant with DEET, wearing long sleeves and pants, and removing standing water around your home. Last year, there were 7 human cases of West Nile virus reported in Utah and no deaths.