LM Otero, Associated Press
U.S. health officials say there's been an alarming increase in the number of West Nile cases. So far there have been more than 1,100 cases reported through the middle of August. That's three times as many as usually seen at this point in the year. About half the cases are in Texas. Most West Nile infections are reported in August and September.

PROVO — West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes in Utah County, health department officials announced Thursday.

Bob Mower, mosquito abatement division director for the Utah County Heath Department, said mosquito traps in the central county area collected carriers of West Nile.

"(That) means it is more important than ever for individuals to protect themselves and their families," Mower said.

Though other states have reported high levels of the disease, there have not been many reports this year in Utah, he said. But that doesn't mean Utahns can be complacent, Mower said.

"We haven't seen as many mosquitoes, but those that we have are of the species that carry West Nile," he said.

Utah County mosquito abatement crews have been spraying to reduce the mosquito numbers, but the key to preventing spread of the virus is personal vigilance, Mower said.

The heath department recommends that people avoid outdoor activities, such as gardening, at dusk through dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

Those who are outside during the periods when mosquitoes are most active should cover up by wearing long-sleeve shirts, pants, shoes and socks.

Mosquito repellents with DEET also should be used. Standing water in tires or similar water-holding containers — which serve as mosquito breeding grounds — should be eliminated.

For more information about the West Nile virus or Utah County's mosquito abatement efforts, visit www.utahcountyhealth.org or call 801-851-7637.

Julian Reyes

Twitter: @_JulianReyes_