S.L. health officials urge residents to protect against West Nile virus

Published: Wednesday, July 3 2013 8:35 p.m. MDT

FILE - In this Friday, May 11, 2007 photo, a mosquito is sorted according to species and gender before testing for West Nile Virus at the Dallas County mosquito lab in Dallas. Scientists have been working on mathematical models to predict outbreaks for decades and have long factored in the weather. They have known, for example, that temperature and rainfall affect the breeding of mosquitoes that carry malaria, West Nile virus and other dangerous diseases. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

Associated Press

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SALT LAKE CITY — Rising temperatures may bring West Nile-infected mosquitos, heath officials caution.

Mosquitos infected with the virus normally show up toward the end of July, according to mosquito reduction experts in Salt Lake County. However, because it is hotter than usual, West Nile virus could come earlier than usual.

No mosquitos have shown up with the virus in trapping reports throughout the county yet, but that could change at any time, heath officials said.

Because of this, the Salt Lake County Health Department is urging residents to break out the mosquito repellent and other insect-fighting measures.

“With the upcoming July holidays, people spend more time outdoors in the evening hours with activities like fireworks and barbecues,” said Dr. Dagmar Vitek, Salt Lake County Health Department medical office director. “And it’s in the evening that WNV-carrying mosquitos are most active, making it especially important to take precautions against mosquito bites.”

The Health Department suggested the following to prevent mosquito bites:

If outside between sunset to sunrise, wear mosquito repellents with DEET, picaridin or lemon eucalyptus oil.

Wear long sleeves and pants when outside.

Get rid of standing water that may attract mosquitos.

Effects of the virus can be mild to severe, leading to disability or death in the worst situations. Those older than 50 or who have frail immune systems have a higher risk of getting sick from West Nile Virus, county health officials said.

Fever and body aches are common symptoms and come between three and 14 days after the bite, according to the health department. More serious cases may involve disorientation, severe fever, a stiff neck, coma, convulsions or weak muscles.

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