Mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus have been found in Utah County, according to state health officials.
Currently there are no reports of anyone contracting the disease, but officials are urging the public to take precautionary measures. Lance Madigan with the Utah County Health Department said individuals should wear long-sleeved clothing and using insect repellant containing DEET, especially during the dusk-to-dawn hours.
“We have over 50 different varieties of mosquitos in Utah, but there’s only two that actually carry that virus and they bite specifically in those time frames,” Madigan said.
The virus-transporting insects were found in southern parts of the county and on the west side of Orem; however, officials urge all residents of Utah County to take caution.
Madigan said mosquitos are a vector for the disease, but not where the virus lives. He said birds are the main reservoir for the virus because they do not succumb to its effects as quickly as other creatures.
Documenting the appearance of the disease has been a constant maintenance process since the virus-carrying mosquitos first entered the state in 2003, according to Madigan.
“We monitor mosquitos, we trap them and test them to see if they are carrying the virus, and that tells us to be extra on guard to watch out for the virus in the mosquitos,” Madigan said.
Of those who contract the disease, Madigan said around five percent will display flu-like symptoms, while less than one percent will experience severe neurological effects. He said the summer months are the most dangerous time for the spread of the disease.
“After we get the first freeze, that generally kills off those two mosquito species,” Madigan said. “They’ll still sometimes harbor out, hang out in garages or someplace like that, but the summer months are more and more at highest risk.”
No human cases have of the virus have surfaced in Utah this year.