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West Nile virus detected in Sevier County

By Carter Williams, | Updated - Jul. 26, 2019 at 12:48 p.m. | Posted - Jul. 26, 2019 at 12:16 p.m.

AURORA, Sevier County — Health officials are urging caution after the West Nile virus was detected during testing in central Utah.

The virus was discovered during testing of an area near Aurora, which is located northeast of Richfield and southwest of Salina, said Nate Selin, deputy director for Central Utah Health Department. He said the Sevier County Abatement Department performed the testing and he wasn't sure when the water was collected or how long the testing process was, but the department was made aware of the positive result late Thursday.

The announcement comes two weeks after Moab Mosquito Abatement District officials discovered the virus in mosquitos located from the Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve in Moab. That was the first time the virus was detected in Utah this year.

No human cases of the virus have been reported so far in 2019. In 2018, the first cases were reported in northern Utah, affecting Box Elder, Davis, Uintah and Cache counties beginning in mid-July.

Selin said this is typically the time of the year when the virus is found in mosquitos; however, it isn't something commonly found in central Utah.

"It's not something that we haven't seen much of in Sevier County and our mosquito pool, so this is something that's a little (rarer) for us in our county," he said. "But we have had cases — or at least mosquito pools — that have been turned up positive in the state and this is the time of the year for that."

Most people who get the virus do not develop symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 1 in 5 develop headaches, body aches, joint pains and other symptoms, and about 1 in 150 people develop serious symptoms including high fever, stupor, disorientation and tremors, the CDC says.

The virus can also be fatal. In 2018, the Utah Health Department reported one West Nile-related death. In 2017, Hillcreast High School football coach Cazzie Brown died from complications after contracting West Nile virus.

To avoid the virus spread by mosquitos, the CDC recommends that people use insect repellent that contains DEET, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and to empty out stagnant water from objects like buckets and birdbaths once a week.

Carter Williams

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