SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — An adult in Salt Lake County is in the hospital with a “more severe” form of West Nile Virus, with officials saying it’s the first human case of the disease this year in the county.
The Salt Lake County Health Department said the impacted individual was hospitalized, but further information on the identity of the person, including their age, gender and any other medical complications they may have, were not disclosed.
The human case is not the first in Utah this year. Two human cases have been reported in the TriCounty Health District and one in the Weber-Morgan Health District.
West Nile Virus can cause mild to severe illness resulting in death, with many infected people not even knowing they have the disease. Officials state less than 1% of infected people will develop a severe form of the disease, which can result in “debilitating long-term complications or death.”
Last year, five people in Utah contracted the disease, all of whom recovered. In 2021, 28 people were infected and three people died of the illness,
Mosquito pools across the state have tested positive for West Nile virus this year, with 77 pools testing positive in Salt Lake County alone.
The term mosquito pool refers to a group of mosquitos intentionally caught and tested in a trap and is not related to actual pools of water, officials explained.
As the state has been plagued with the virus this summer, Salt Lake County health officials are reminding Utahns to exercise caution when recreating outdoors.
“There are a growing number of mosquitoes carrying the disease,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, SLCoHD executive director, “so it is now especially important that people protect themselves from mosquito bites, particularly in the hours from dusk to dawn.”
Mosquito season will continue until Utah experiences its first hard freeze, so until then, officials urge the use of mosquito repellent, wearing protective clothing, keeping standing water drained and windows and doors shut in homes.
Symptoms of West Nile Virus include fever, headaches and body aches, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness or convulsions. If you believe you are infected, contact your healthcare provider.
Dr. Debi Johnson is a medical expert and health journalist dedicated to promoting well-being. With a background in medicine, she offers evidence-based insights into health trends and wellness practices. Beyond her reporting, Dr. Debi enjoys hiking, yoga, and empowering others to lead healthier lives.