Mosquitoes in Moab test positive for West Nile virus

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Utah's first West Nile Virus case of 2018 was found in Utah County resident according to the Utah County Health Department. (Photo: Day Donaldson via MGN)

West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes collected in Moab, according to a statement released by the Grand County Sheriff's Office.

The sample was collected on July 2 by the Moab Mosquito Abatement District in the Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve. The Utah Public Health Lab returned the positive results on Thursday.

Insecticide spraying and aerial larvicide treatments will be done in areas where the mosquitoes pose the biggest threat.

West Nile virus is transmitted by Culex mosquitoes that bite at night. The peak flight time for mosquitoes is during the two hours after the first stars appear in the sky, according to a press release.

People can avoid getting bit after dark by wearing long sleeves that are brightly colored, long pants and bug repellent with DEET. Getting good window screens and using a screened tent are also important.

Removing stagnant water, such as water in unmaintained swimming pools, hot tubs, wading pools, water filled buckets, livestock water troughs and flood-irrigated fields, will also help reduce mosquito populations.

If you, or someone you know, becomes infected with the virus, the risk of serious disease is low. Those affected usually have mild-to-severe flu-like illness with muscle aches, fever, rashes and a headache. These symptoms usually last for a few days, but can last for a few months.

In rare cases, those infected may get meningitis or encephalitis.

People with weakened immune systems, diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease are at the greatest risk. The overall death rate is about one for every thousand infected individuals, according to the press release.

Animals can also be affected by the virus. Properly vaccinated horses have not been known to suffer significant illness from the virus. However, crows, ravens, magpies, jays, hawks, eagles and owls are often killed by West Nile virus.

If you see one of these birds that looks sick or died for no apparent reason, please contact Mosquito Abatement at 259-7161.