West Nile Cases Likely Much Higher than Reported

West Nile Cases Likely Much Higher than Reported

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Ed Yeates Reporting West Nile in Utah is playing the same game this year other states have seen in previous years. Many folks are probably being bitten by infected mosquitoes but are getting only mildly sick, or not even sick at all.

Utah Public Health says the dilemma in reporting West Nile is the variability in how people respond or react to the infection. Though there is still only one officially confirmed case in Utah - with two other highly suspect cases - the infection rate is probably much higher. In fact a fourth person, who never got sick at all, was identified only because West Nile came up positive in a routine blood test while he was preparing to donate blood. There are probably many others - this year, and last year.

One of those victims, 26-year old Adam Jensen, was pretty sick for two to three days, but he's feeling so well now he was out here at Lagoon on an outing with his family. Adam was at his family home in Corrine last summer, when he was bitten many times. In fact he calls the spot there "mosquito heaven." He came down with classic symptoms within the incubation period.

Adam Jensen: "I had a high fever, nausea, a really stiff neck. I couldn't even turn my neck at all. And I really just felt like crap."

Adam's doctor sent a blood sample to an out-of-state lab. It came up positive for West Nile. But by that time Adam had recovered. The virus was no longer active and so the state lab had no way to officially confirm it.

Most, like Adam, recover and will probably end up with a lifetime immunity to the virus. But a few end up hospitalized in a life-threatening situation.

Adam Jensen: "But now I'm worried about my son because he's out in the same area that we were at and he's just a little kid. And so I'm still concerned for others."

So this is one of those stories where for most we speak softly, but for the very young, the old, and those with compromised immune systems, continue carrying a big stick. Stay on guard.

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