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Salt Lake and Washington Counties report first two cases of West Nile Virus

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake County Health Department announced early Monday an adult is in the hospital with the first human case of West Nile Virus in the county in 2019. Another case was later reported, but this time in Washington County.

The health department said the person who is sick has a more severe form of the virus, neuroinvasive West Nile. No other information on the person in Washington county was given other than a human case was confirmed.

Area governments detected West Nile in 21 different mosquito pools around Salt Lake County so far this summer, but this is the first report in 2019 of a human contracting the virus in the county.

In a statement, health department officials urged people to take steps to protect themselves.

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

The health department’s recommendations include:

  • Use an EPA-registered mosquito repellent
  • Wear long sleeves and pants after dusk
  • Clear your yard of any standing water
  • Clear your roof gutters of debris, which can cause water to pool
  • Use mosquito dunks or stock garden ponds with mosquito-eating fish
  • Keep garden ponds clean
  • Keep door and window screens in good condition
  • Cut weeds and tall grass short to deny mosquitoes a shady place to hide

 

Many people who get West Nile Virus may not realize they have been infected. However, the neuroinvasive form of the disease, which the health department says affects less than 1% of those who get West Nile, can cause long-term complications and even death.

“Symptoms of WNV infection appear within 2 to 14 days and include fever, headache and body aches. More severe infections may include high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors and muscle weakness or convulsions,” the health department says.

Anyone can become sick with West Nile, but the health department says people over the age of 50 or who have weakened immune systems may be at higher risk.