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Adult hospitalized with first diagnosed case of West Nile virus in Salt Lake County

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake County Health Department on Friday reported its first case of West Nile virus, Utah’s fourth case of West Nile virus this year.

Officials said the adult was diagnosed with neuroinvasive West Nile virus and is currently hospitalized.

It is estimated that less than 1% of people with West Nile virus develop neuroinvasive disease, in which the disease affects brain function.

“There are increasing numbers of mosquitoes carrying the disease…so it is now especially important for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites, particularly during the hours from dusk to dawn,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, CEO of Salt Lake. County Health Department.

A statement from the county. recommends minimizing exposure to mosquitoes and using caution until the first hard frost of the year. It suggests using mosquito repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, draining standing water in yards, clearing debris from roof gutters, cleaning garden ponds, keeping doors and screens in good condition, and keeping weeds cut and the tall grasses.

The Utah Department of Health and Human Services provides a weekly update on West Nile virus cases. On Sept. 9, it reported there were two cases in the TriCounty Health District and one case in the Weber-Morgan Health District.

The report also says seven horses tested positive for West Nile virus this year, including two in Duchesne and Utah counties and one in Garfield, Rich and Weber counties. One bird also tested positive for West Nile virus this year, a sage grouse in Wasatch County.

In 2022, there were a total of five human cases of West Nile virus, and in 2021, there were 28 cases and three people died.

In 2021, nearly 7% of pools tested tested positive for West Nile virus, and this year, just over 2% of pools tested tested positive for West Nile virus, according to reports from the Department of Health and Services Humans of Utah.

The Salt Lake County Health Department reported that the virus was detected in 77 mosquito clusters in the county. Although only some of the mosquitoes carry the virus, the county said there is no way for people to know if a mosquito is capable of transmitting disease.

The health department said that between 20% and 30% of people with the virus will have symptoms and many of those symptoms are minor, so it is likely that there are cases of West Nile virus that have not been reported.

Symptoms of the severe form of West Nile virus include high fever, severe headache and stiff neck, disorientation and confusion.

The state health department encourages people with symptoms to contact a health care provider immediately. People over the age of 50 or who have weaker immune systems are at higher risk of severe illness.

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Emily Ashcraft joined KSL.com as a reporter in 2021. She covers courts and legal affairs, as well as health, faith and religion news.

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