State’s First Human Case Of West Nile Of 2018 Reported In Utah County

Aug 16, 2018, 7:48 PM
File image of a mosquito....
File image of a mosquito.

PROVO, Utah – Utah County health officials have reported the state’s first human case of West Nile Virus of 2018, but cautioned that they don’t know where the person contracted the virus.

“The person is get quite better. (They) did not have any severe symptoms at all,” said Lisa Guerra, the epidemiology coordinator for the Utah County Health Department. “It still hit them hard, (with) flu-like symptoms, but very hard flu-like symptoms.”

Guerra said the individual is between 30 and 50 years old and lives in the northern part of Utah Valley. In addition, the person has recently traveled out of state, making it hard to determine where they may have gotten bit by an infected mosquito.

“In this case we’re not sure because there was quite a bit of travel involved to different places,” Guerra said.

Health officials said it’s rare to have just one confirmed case so late in the summer. Over the last five years, Utah has averaged 18 human cases of West Nile Virus per year.

Adding to the possibility that the person may have caught the virus elsewhere, officials with the Utah County Mosquito Abatement Department said they have not detected West Nile in the county’s mosquito population so far this year.

“It’s really good news,” said program director Dan Miller.

Miller said they have trapped and tested thousands of mosquitoes—about 40 to 50 pools of the insect each week—and haven’t had any positive results. Overall, he said, the mosquito population is down this year.

“Last summer we had a lot more mosquitoes,” Miller said. “It was hot, also, but we had a lot more water. So really the Utah Lake and its level has a lot to with the number of mosquitoes we find. The higher level the lake is, the more mosquitoes.”

Symptoms of West Nile Virus usually appear within 3 to 14 days. However, most people do not show any symptoms. Some can experience flu-like symptoms while one percent of those infected will develop dangerous, even deadly, illnesses.

“The severe symptoms involve the central nervous system,” Guerra explained. “You can get meningitis, encephalitis and along with that you can go into coma, lethargy, disorientation.”

The Utah County Health Department sent out the following list of precautionary measures that start with the letter “D”:

  • DRAIN standing water. Remove items that can collect standing water such as tires, buckets, unused flower pots, toys, etc.
  • DAWN and DUSK are times to avoid being outside
  • DRESS appropriately by wearing long sleeves and pants when outside
  • DEFEND yourself by using insect repellent with DEET
  • DOOR and window screens should be in good working condition
  • DISTRICT personnel are available to address mosquito concerns. Call 801-851-7637 or fill out a service request form online at: http://goo.gl/Yi1yKs.

“The importance of using insect repellent with DEET cannot be overstated,” said Aislynn Tolman-Hill, spokesperson with the county’s health department.

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State’s First Human Case Of West Nile Of 2018 Reported In Utah County