The Salt Lake Valley Health Department is asking residents to continue to take precautions to avoid West Nile virus as mosquito season winds down. And it's good advice across the state.

Although the state's active West Nile surveillance stops this week, recent checks have found a large number of infected mosquito pools. Those mosquitoes will continue to be active until there's a hard freeze, according to JoDee Summers, an epidemiologist in the Utah Department of Health.

"Individuals must continue to take precautions to keep themselves and their family healthy, especially now when we are seeing such a high rate of infected mosquitoes this late in

the season," said Dagmar Vitek, deputy director of SLVHD, which issued a press release warning of continued concerns.

Summers said 2008 proved to be somewhat milder than previous seasons, but there were 20 lab-confirmed human infections. And the mosquitoes are still active.

The virus has been detected in

more than a dozen Utah counties. And some of them have had high numbers. Salt Lake County, for instance, has had nine lab-confirmed human infections — including one with the severe neurological effects of brain and spinal-tissue inflammation — four sentinel chickens, one dead bird and a whopping 68 infected mosquito pools. Cache County had 34 infected mosquito pools, and Uintah had 13.

Until that hard freeze comes, the standard advice applies, health officials said. Use mosquito repellents with DEET, Picardin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or IR3535 (a newly approved mosquito repellent). Wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors from dusk to dawn and remove standing water to eliminate mosquito breeding areas.

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