6 human cases of West Nile Virus found in Utah

West Nile virus symptoms are similar to COVID-19 at first, experts say
Posted at 2:23 PM, Sep 07, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — Six cases of West Nile Virus in humans were found in Utah in the most recent report issued by the Utah Department of Health.

READ: Utah reports 27 COVID deaths over holiday weekend; 4,657 new cases

Of the six cases, four are categorized as neuroinvasive which would include more severe symptoms and conditions such as meningitis or encephalitis. The other cases were classified as non-neuroinvasive.

All six cases were discovered in Salt Lake and Davis counties between Aug. 22-28.

The recent West Nile Virus cases were the first discovered in Utah in 2021. The state has averaged 12 human cases a year since 2009, but only reported two in 2020.

Humans are most often infected with West Nile Virus from mosquito bites. UDOH reports that 506 positive West Nile Virus mosquito pools have been reported in multiple Utah counties this year, including Box Elder, Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Summit, Tooele and Weber.

READ: Crisis Standards of Care activated in Idaho during COVID surge

According to UDOH, most people infected with the virus do not develop symptoms, but they range from headache and joint pain, to vomiting and rash. The World Health Organization estimates approximately 1 in 150 people infected with West Nile Virus develop a severe form of the disease.

Health officials offer the following tips to avoiding mosquito bites:

  • 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 during 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).
  • 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.

UDOH also reported that eight horses also tested positive for West Nile Virus.