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Jed Boal reportingThe West Nile Virus killed nearly 300 people in the U-S last summer, but did not make it to Utah.
State Health officials expect it to arrive this summer, but believe there is no reason to be alarmed.
The State Health Department is going on the offensive with the West Nile virus and plans to "Fight the Bite" with an extensive public information and prevention plan.
The Utah Department of Health will stress detection and prevention to battle West Nile Virus. The virus hit New York City three summers ago. It has spread across the U-S each of the last two summers.
Dr. Robert Rolfs/State Epidemiologist: "THIS IS PROBABLY GOING TO GET HERE THIS YEAR, BUT WE SHOULDN'T CHANGE OUR LIVES OR GET SCARED OR HYSTERICAL ABOUT IT."
Even in an environment swarming with infected mosquitoes, only very few will have the virus, only one in five people bitten by an infected mosquito will get West Nile virus, and only one in 150 will develop a severe illness. A small percentage of those will die.
Dr. Robert Rolfs/State Epidemiologist: "EVEN IN AN AREA WHERE THE VIRUS IS ACTIVELY CIRCULATING, MOST PEOPLE DON'T HAVE ANYTHING TO WORRY ABOUT. ALTHOUGH, THOSE WHO DO, IT'S A SERIOUS ILLNESS."
You'll see an informational poster wherever you play outside this summer, with information on prevention.
Most Important Preventions:
- Protect at dusk and dawn.
- Use insect repellent with DEET
- Cover up
- Remove standing water
- Repair screens
The mosquitoes that carry the virus bite at dusk and dawn.
Michelle Korth/West Nile Virus Manager: "SO IF THEY'RE OUTSIDE AT DAWN AND DUSK, TO PROTECT THEMSELVES, WEAR MOSQUITO REPELLENT."
Be sure to use insect relellent with DEET, and cover your arms and legs with shirts and long pants. Around your house remove standing water from gutters, old tires, anywhere. And repair screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house.
Birds are the carriers, so helath officials are interested in testing some dead corvids and raptors. The virus will like show up first in a dead bird.
The first sign West Nile has arrived will likely be a dead bird that tests positive.