KAYSVILLE — The West Nile virus has returned to Davis County, and it may be closer than you think.
Davis County Mosquito Abatement Director Gary Hatch said that a mosquito pool in the northwest corner of the county has tested positive for the virus. However, he added that there has also been West Nile detected on the northern border of Salt Lake County, which puts the southern portion of Davis County in a danger zone as well.
“That’s why we just said the entire county is at risk,” said Hatch, who recently spoke to the Centerville-Farmington Rotary about the positive test.
The West Nile virus isn’t new to Davis County, with positive tests occurring every year since 2005. Last year, the virus was detected in two sentinel chickens, birds used specifically for the detection of West Nile virus. Hatch said that, in some ways, that discovery was more severe than detecting the virus in a mosquito pool.
“The pool tells you a mosquito has bitten an infected bird, so the virus is out there,” said Hatch. “The chickens tell you that the virus is now being spread by the mosquitoes.”
The abatement district tests captured mosquitoes every few days for signs of the virus. This year, as well as in 2011 and 2012, the level of the virus is lower than in other years.
“We still have quite a bit of summer left, though,” said Hatch. “We have to be careful.”
For residents, this means making certain that there’s no standing water on their property, including in buckets, old toys and unused swimming pools. Water in birdbaths should be replaced weekly, and those with ornamental ponds can call the district at 801-544-3736 and have them bring over fish that eat mosquitoes.
The infected mosquitoes attack only in the evening and nighttime hours, so Hatch recommends that residents stay indoors or wear long sleeves, pants and shoes from dusk to dawn. He also recommends that residents use mosquito repellent with either DEET or Picaridin as the active ingredient.
“Most brand-name repellents use one or the other,” said Hatch. “They both work well.”
He also advises residents to make sure all their screens are repaired, as well as limiting traffic into and out of the house after dark.
“These mosquitoes like to fly in and bite people while they’re asleep,” he said.
Though there have been no cases of humans infected with the virus this year, Hatch said that there have been 13 or 14 cases in the county since 2005.
“At this point, thank goodness, we haven’t had any fatalities,” he said.
Many infected with West Nile virus only experience minor symptoms, but some get a more severe version that includes fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms can last weeks or even months, with the impact of the virus lasting a lot longer.
“Sometimes, it takes people months and even years to get back to the way they were,” said Hatch. “It definitely has a long-term impact on quality of life.”