Utah DHHS advises public to take protective measures against mosquito bites to prevent West Nile virus infection


Boram Kim


The Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reported this week that the West Nile virus has been found in mosquito pools in Davis, Salt Lake, and Uintah counties.


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Although no cases of the disease have been reported this season yet, the presence of the virus means the risk of transmission to humans still exists. 

“West Nile virus has an annual presence in Utah and it isn’t going away,” according to Hannah Rettler, DHHS vector borne/zoonotic epidemiologist. “Now is a good time to protect yourself from mosquito bites and work to eliminate mosquito breeding sites around your home,” adds Rettler.

DHHS is advising the public to take the following simple precautions to avoid mosquito bites and reduce risk for infection.

  • Wearing long sleeves, long pants, and socks while outdoors.
  • Using an insect repellent with 20%-30% DEET, which is safe to use during pregnancy. Repellents are not recommended for children younger than 2 months of age.
  • Avoiding outdoor exposure from dusk to dawn, which are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur in the evening or early morning.
  • Removing any puddles of water or standing water including in pet dishes, flower pots, wading and swimming pools, buckets, tarps, and tires as mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water.
  • Reporting bodies of stagnant water to local Mosquito Abatement District (MAD).
  • Keeping doors, windows, and screens in good maintenance.
  • Consulting with an immunization travel clinic before traveling to areas that may have mosquito-borne illnesses such as Zika or dengue.

Transmitted through mosquito bites, the West Nile virus can infect people and animals. While most individuals who get infected with West Nile virus will be asymptomatic, some develop symptoms similar to the flu, including fever, headache, body aches, nausea, or rashes. In a small number of cases, people can develop a severe form of the disease, which can result in hospitalization and death. 

Symptoms of the severe form of West Nile virus include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, disorientation, and confusion. Those experiencing severe symptoms should contact a health care provider immediately.