Salt Lake County health officials announced today the first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) infection in the state for 2016.
The individual was diagnosed the the more severe form of the viral infection, the neuroinvasive form, and is currently hospitalized.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, since the first case was reported in Utah in 2003, approximately 350 cases have been reported, including 9 fatalities.
The Salt Lake County Health Department reminds the public despite all the attention on Zika this year, WNV is more of a threat to Utahns.
West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease that can cause encephalitis, a brain inflammation. West Nile virus was first detected in North America in 1999 in New York. Prior to that it had only been found in Africa, Eastern Europe, and West Asia.
According to the CDC, approximately 80 percent of people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.
Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks.
About one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.
There is no specific treatment for WNV infection.
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