Mosquitos with West Nile virus trapped near Aurora
By Robert Green
AURORA, Sevier County—Central Utah public health officials are alerting the public because mosquitoes trapped near Aurora in Sevier County have tested positive for the West Nile virus.
This is the first and only positive report of the West Nile virus appearing anywhere in Central Utah, said Zach Kearney, environmental health scientist with the Central Utah Public Health Department (CUPHD).
And there are no reported cases of West Nile being detected in humans or horses this year, Kearney said.
The West Nile virus has not surfaced in Sanpete County this year, according to Kristina Winkel, a public health nurse with the CUPHD.
The amount of testing, however, can vary widely from county to county, depending on the emphasis placed on mosquito abatement, Kearney said.
In Sanpete County, for example, there is no mosquito abatement program. Sanpete County Commissioner Edwin Sunderland said mosquito abatement is something the commission might want to take a look at.
Infected mosquitoes spread the West Nile when they bite humans, horses and birds. There is a vaccine for horses, but no such preventive measure or treatment exists for humans.
The virus affects the central nervous system. Mild symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash. These symptoms typically last a few days.
Severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, vision loss and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks and neurological effects may be permanent.
Taking simple precautions to avoid mosquito bites is the key to reducing the risk of infection:
- Wear clothes that cover your arms and legs, and use an insect repellent with 20 to 30 percent DEET.
- Find and remove standing water around your home to reduce mosquito breeding sites, including
pet dishes, flower pots, wading pools, buckets, tarps, old tires, etc.
- Maintain your swimming pool to prevent mosquito breeding.
- Keep doors, windows and screens in good condition and make sure they fit tightly.
- Contact a veterinarian for information on vaccinating horses.
The elderly and people with poor immune systems are at higher risk for disease. The most serious cases can lead to hospitalization, disability or death. If you are experiencing symptoms of West Nile virus, contact your health care provider.