Utah health officials urge residents to take precautions against West Nile virus

Public health officials in Utah recently warned residents to protect against mosquito bites after the positive identification of the West Nile virus in mosquito pools in the state's Box Elder and Uintah counties.

According to a press release, while no human cases of the virus have been reported in the state, officials from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) said simple precautions can help people avoid infection.

"The best way to reduce your risk is to use an insect repellent with DEET when you're outside," JoDee Baker, an epidemiologist at UDOH, said. "Adults and children older than 2 months of age can safely use repellents that contain up to 30 percent DEET."

Other precautionary measures include wearing long sleeve shirts and pants while outdoors, reporting standing bodies of water to the local Mosquito Abatement District and removing puddles and other standing water around the home.

Most people infected by the West Nile virus will not notice any symptoms, though some may experience flu-like symptoms. The elderly and individuals with compromised immune systems face the highest risk of symptomatic disease, and serious cases can lead to hospitalization, disability and potentially death.

Severe symptoms can include high fever, headache with stiff neck, disorientation and confusion. People experiencing these symptoms are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider immediately.

UDOH said surveillance of the virus will continue into the fall, and it will update its website with available detection information each Wednesday.