After initially detecting West Nile Virus in Stansbury two weeks ago, the Tooele Valley Mosquito Abatement District announced over the weekend that a population of mosquitos in Lake Point has also tested positive for the virus.
The abatement district made the announcement last Friday via its official Facebook page, where it also urged residents to take precautions against mosquito bites to prevent the spread of the virus to humans.
Scott Bradshaw, district manager for Tooele Valley Mosquito Abatement, said the virus was detected in adult mosquitos trapped near a pool just north of Canyon Road in Lake Point.
But the positive test result doesn’t necessarily mean the virus is spreading or becoming more prevalent in Tooele Valley, he said. Rather, he said it was likely the virus was present in that particular mosquito pool before surveillance detected it.
“The virus is really active right now in Northern Utah, so it isn’t surprising that we are getting it throughout our area now,” said Bradshaw.
State-wide, testing has confirmed the presence of West Nile in mosquitos nesting in 120 bodies of water. At the height of last year’s West Nile season, Bradshaw said the state had just 69 positive test results, with 10 of those located in Northern Utah.
West Nile is spread to humans by a certain species of mosquito, Culex tarsalis, that is normally active around Tooele Valley in late summer. However, the mosquito doesn’t always carry the virus, so mosquito abatement officials conduct regular testing to determine where the virus is spreading.
Officials not only test the mosquitos directly, but also test birds and humans, which are both susceptible to the virus. So far just one person, a resident of Salt Lake County, has tested positive for West Nile Fever.
West Nile Virus is somewhat unique in that it does not affect all people equally. For roughly 80 percent of the population, Bradshaw said infection with the virus would mean little more than mild flu-like symptoms. But for the rest of the population, the virus can cause more severe symptoms, including fever, vomiting, rash, and fatigue, with symptoms lingering for up to a month. In some cases, the virus can be fatal.
Those over the age of 50 are most likely to experience severe symptoms, and most deaths attributed to the virus occur in more elderly populations, Bradshaw said. But the virus also poses a risk to those who are physically active, because of the increased amount of time athletes spend outdoors in the morning or afternoon hours.
Because there is no vaccine for West Nile, the best method of prevention is to avoid mosquito bites, Bradshaw said. Residents should wear repellents containing DEET, Picaridin or lemon eucalyptus oil, should avoid being outside at dusk or dawn when mosquitoes are most active, and wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors.
Homeowners should also remove any standing bodies of water from their properties to prevent the mosquitoes, which breed in stagnant water, from moving in next door.
Residents are to call mosquito abatement at 801-250-3879 to report areas where mosquitoes are present in large numbers, so that the district can keep mosquito populations at a minimum.