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Utah's first fatal case of West Nile virus for 2018 reported in Salt Lake County

By Liesl Nielsen, | Posted - Aug. 22, 2018 at 1:06 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — A 65-year-old Utahn died after contracting West Nile virus; it is the first West Nile virus-related death in Utah reported for 2018, officials said Wednesday.

The 65-year-old suffered from other health concerns and was diagnosed with neuroinvasive West Nile virus, a more severe form of the disease. The individual died last week, according to an emailed statement from the Salt Lake County Health Department.

The department is not releasing information about the deceased due to medical privacy laws.

The first reported human case of West Nile virus for 2018 was reported Aug. 16 in Utah County.

Health officials want to remind people that West Nile virus is a serious concern. Salt Lake County mosquito abatement districts have detected West Nile virus in 30 different mosquito pools around the county.

“There are a growing number of mosquitoes in the county carrying the disease,” Ilene Risk, the department's epidemiology bureau manager, said in an emailed statement. “It is now especially important that residents be vigilant in protecting themselves from mosquito bites, particularly in the hours from dusk to dawn.”

To minimize exposure to mosquitoes and infection:
  • Use an EPA-registered mosquito repellent with DEET, permethrin, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus; follow package directions about application.
  • After dusk, wear long sleeves and pants.
  • Drain standing water in yards (old tires, potted plant trays, pet dishes, toys, buckets, etc.).
  • Keep roof gutters clear of debris.
  • Clean and stock garden ponds with mosquito-eating fish or mosquito dunks.
  • Ensure door and window screens are in good condition so mosquitoes cannot get inside.
  • Keep weeds and tall grass cut short; adult mosquitoes look for these shady places to rest during the hot daylight hours.
Information courtesy of the Salt Lake County Health Department

Those who contract the virus may not know they've been infected. About 20 percent of those infected will develop a fever, which usually lasts only about three to six days with headaches and body aches.

Less than 1 percent of people infected will develop West Nile neuroinvasive disease, the department said. Those over age 50 and people with weakened immune systems are at the highest risk of illness caused by the disease.

Symptoms can include high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness and convulsions. Symptoms of infection usually appear within three to 14 days after exposure.

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