Utah reports 1st human West Nile case of 2013

Utah health officials say they’ve confirmed the state’s first human case of West Nile Virus this year and expect to see more as the summer winds down.

The Southwest Utah Public Health Department announced Wednesday that the virus was reported in Washington County. The patient, who is over the age of 60, was hospitalized but is now back home, according to state epidemiologist Jodie Baker.

While mosquitoes with the virus have been found all over the state, activity has been particularly high this summer in Washington County. The county was also the site of the state’s first confirmed case of West Nile virus in a horse this year. The horse survived, Baker said.

Horses are more likely to contract West Nile because they pasture outdoors, but a vaccine is available for them, she said.

Last year, three human cases of the virus were reported in Utah — all toward the end of the summer.

Health department officials say anyone bitten by an infected mosquito can contract the disease, although most people infected with the virus won’t experience symptoms.

Symptoms can include fever, fatigue, aches and rash.

The health department says residents can protect themselves by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors, avoiding mosquito-infested areas and emptying any standing water on their property.

Last year, a rash of cases in Texas make headlines, but a national hotspot for the illness hasn’t emerged this year.

“So far this year, it’s more mild compared to last year,” Baker said.

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