KAYSVILLE — Davis County residents may want to dig out the mosquito repellent from the back of the bathroom cupboard if they haven’t already.
Over the last three weeks, “hot spots” of mosquitoes that tested positive for West Nile virus have been cropping up throughout the county — in both rural and urban locations.
County officials found over 65 groups of mosquitoes that tested positive for the disease in about 50 different locations, and they may find more as the day’s testing comes to an end, Davis’ Mosquito Abatement District manager Gary Hatch told KSL.com Wednesday.
The Bayview Duck Club in Clearfield had the most amount of mosquito groups test positive for West Nile, and the district found other hot spots near the border of West Layton and Syracuse, west Kaysville, the border of Oakridge Country Club in Farmington, the South Davis Sewer District in West Bountiful and the New State Duck Club in Woods Cross, according to Hatch.
The district can often tell if virus-carrying mosquitoes will affect people in the area by a calculation called the “minimal infection rate.” The higher the rate, the more likely West Nile virus will affect the human population, Hatch explained.
“The minimal infection rate (in Davis County) is definitely fairly high,” he said. “We were hoping it would have calmed down a little this week, but right now we’re finding (groups testing positive). … This warm weather is not helping.”
In an attempt to combat the mosquitoes, the district sends crews out at night to spray the insects in nearby neighborhoods, as well as crews that go out during the day to find and kill mosquito larvae in wet areas.
“(Mosquitoes) have a very small role in the ecosystem. There isn’t really one thing that feeds primarily on just mosquitoes, especially here in Utah. They do pollinate some flowers, but unfortunately here in Utah, a lot of the flowers they pollinate are noxious weeds. So they’re kinda giving you the double hit,” Hatch said.
The mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus are outside from dusk to dawn, so residents venturing outside while it's dark should wear long sleeves, long pants and closed shoes. Mosquitoes can bite through light T-shirts that are tight on the skin, though, so Hatch recommends thicker, baggier clothing.
It’s also imperative to wear mosquito repellent with DEET, an oily liquid often used in insect repellents, Hatch said. Mosquitoes are drawn to the carbon dioxide humans breathe out and can sense it up to 100 yards away. Repellent confuses their senses, though even a small patch of uncovered skin is vulnerable to the insects, Hatch explained.
He also urged residents to remove any standing water around the home.
While most cases of West Nile virus are mild and go unreported, there is no known vaccine or cure for the virus in humans. Symptoms of the disease include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Recovering from the symptoms can take several weeks or months; and in some cases, the central nervous system may be affected permanently. About one in 10 people who develop a strain of West Nile virus that affects their nervous system will die, the CDC claims.
While the virus can affect anyone at any age, people over 60 and those with certain medical conditions, like cancer or diabetes, are at greater risk.