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Front Page » June 1, 2006 » Focus on health » West Nile Virus a common danger to Carbon residents
Published 3,414 days ago

West Nile Virus a common danger to Carbon residents

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It would be hard not to notice if one ventures outside at at all in the evening.

The mosquitoes are out and they are voracious this year.

That's why the Southeastern Utah Department of Health is urging all citizens to "Fight the Bite" in a big way this year. And it's all in the name of combating West Nile Virus.

West Nile Virus came to Carbon County two years ago when test chickens were tested and the disease was found to exist in them.

As people spend more time outdoors during the summer, the risk of getting mosquito bites increases, therefore increasing the risk of West Nile Virus (WNV) infection.

One way the health department says citizens can help "Fight the Bite!" is to control mosquitoes in their own backyard.

Utah's wet spring and high runoff levels have created some perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes need water and warm weather to breed. With the warm weather here, it's time to pay attention.The department asks people to look for places in their yards where mosquitoes can breed. Birdbaths, swimming pools, old tires and plant containers can all become mosquito nurseries.

There are three easy things that people can do to reduce standing water and the number of mosquitoes this year - drain it, replace it or dunk it.

"Drain it" means that unnecessary standing water should be drained. To prevent standing water, get rid of old tires or unused items in the yard that gather water, and turn wheelbarrows or other items over so that water doesn't collect in them. For water in items such as birdbaths, people should "replace it" by draining and changing the water twice a week. Replacing the water will keep mosquito eggs from hatching in the items.

For larger bodies of water, such as stock tanks and swimming pools that cannot be drained or have water easily replaced, the department says owners can "dunk it" by using mosquito dunks. Available at lawn and garden stores, mosquito dunks are inexpensive, harmless to pets and people, and eliminate mosquitoes before they begin biting.

"West Nile Virus is now a yearly presence in Utah and it isn't going away," said Lisa Wyman, epidemiologist, UDOH. "Last year, West Nile Virus was detected in every major area of the state, from rural southern areas to the urban Wasatch Front."

WNV surveillance in Utah is underway and will continue throughout the summer and fall.

So far in 2006, no WNV activity or human cases have been detected in Utah.

In 2005, Utah reported 52 cases of West Nile Virus in people aged 6-86 years, with an average age of 43 years. Twenty Utahns were hospitalized with serious illness and one died.

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