West Nile virus poses a health risk for humans and horses. Carbon County residents should take precautions to protect themselves and their animals from the serious infection.
Although there is no West Nile virus immunization for humans, there are vaccines available for horses through the local veterinarians.
Scientists at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in collaboration with Fort Dodge Animal Health, have developed the world's first licensed DNA vaccine.
The vaccine, which protects horses from West Nile virus, was licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture this week.
The technology could serve as a basis for future development of human vaccines, according to federal officials.
People can protect families from mosquito bites and West Nile virus by looking for places in yards where the insects can breed.Birdbaths, swimming pools, old tires and plant containers can all become mosquito nurseries.
The Utah Department of Health encourages the community to "Fight the Bite!" as people head outside during the summer.
Because people are spending more time outdoors, the risk of getting mosquito bites increases, therefore increasing the risk of West Nile virus.
One way to help "Fight the Bite!" is for residents to control mosquitoes in their backyards.
Mike Johnson of the county mosquito abatement department advises residents that reducing any standing water around a yard can make a huge difference.
"Just one small can of water can be a nursery for over 1,000 larva," said Johnson.
All unnecessary standing water should be drained from properties.
To prevent standing water, residents should 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.
According to UDOH, residents should drain and change the water in items like birdbaths twice a week.
Replacing the water will keep mosquito eggs from hatching.
For larger bodies of water like stock tanks and swimming pools that cannot be drained or easily replaced, residents can use 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 JoDee Summers, department of health epidemiologist.
"Last year, West Nile virus was detected in every major area of the state, from rural southern areas to the urban Wasatch Front."
Senior citizens are at a higher risk and should take precautions against being infected.
Johnson explained that people can only be exposed to virus carrying mosquitoes from the hours between dusk until dawn.
Local residents, especially seniors, should avoid being outside after dusk. If they must go outdoors, they should wear long sleeve shirts and protect themselves with mosquito repellent.
In 2006, Utah reported 158 cases of West Nile virus in people ages 6 to 86 years old. The cases resulted in five deaths.
West Nile virus surveillance in Utah is underway and will continue throughout the summer and fall.
To date in 2007, no WNV activity or human cases have been detected in Utah.
For more information, local residents may contact the Southeastern Utah Health District or visit www.health.utah.gov/wnv.
Throughout the WNV season, the UDOH Web page will be updated on Fridays with available detection information.