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September 11, 2015

SLCoHD Reports Human WNV Cases

Pam Davenport - Email

Nicholas Rupp - Email

SALT LAKE COUNTY—The Salt Lake County Health Department (SLCoHD) has announced three human cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in the county—the first cases in Utah this year. All infected individuals are expected to recover.

WNV is spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito; it is not transmitted person to person. The mosquitoes that transmit WNV only bite between dusk and dawn. There is no treatment for West Nile Virus, so prevention is essential.

Local mosquito abatement districts (MADs) will continue to work to suppress mosquito populations, including targeted control efforts such as ground pesticide spraying for adult mosquitoes, known as “ULV” (Ultra Low Volume spraying). This type of spraying is done after dusk with either hand-held or truck-mounted spraying equipment. MADs will focus their spraying on areas most attractive to mosquitoes, such as large, grassy areas that have high humidity and vegetation that shelters the adult mosquitoes.

“We’re seeing West-Nile–infected mosquitoes throughout the valley,” said Sam Dickson, director of the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District. “Our crew has been working since early spring to reduce the number of mosquitoes and continues to do so. However, MADs cannot eliminate all mosquitoes and residents need to do their part to protect themselves, too.”

Health officials are asking people to take personal protective measures that minimize their exposures to mosquitoes by:

  • Wearing long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and socks when outdoors from dusk to dawn, when WNV-carrying mosquitoes are most active
  • Using repellents that contain DEET or picaridin when outdoors from dusk to dawn
  • Regularly removing any standing water in yards
  • Clearing roof gutters of debris
  • Keeping ornamental ponds clean and contacting their local MAD to stock them with mosquito-eating fish or long-lasting biological control products
  • Ensuring screen doors and window screens are in good condition
  • Cutting weeds and tall grass as adult mosquitoes look for these shady places to rest during the hot daylight hours

Salt Lake County had two human cases of West Nile Virus in 2014. The county’s last fatality due to WNV was in 2007.