The Utah Department of Health and Human Services is asking Utahns to take precautionary steps to avoid mosquito bites after the West Nile virus was detected in mosquito pools in Salt Lake and Uintah counties.

The virus was first detected this year in a Davis County mosquito pool last month. Though, there haven't been any human cases so far, department officials say the positive pools indicate there is a risk of becoming infected.

While most people who get infected don't feel symptoms, it can cause fever, headache, body aches, nausea, or rashes and even hospitalization or death in extreme cases.

"West Nile virus has an annual presence in Utah and it isn't going away," Hannah Rettler, the vector-borne/zoonotic epidemiologist at the state health department, said in a statement Monday. "Now is a good time to protect yourself from mosquito bites and work to eliminate mosquito breeding sites around your home."

If you're heading outdoors or even just outside your home, the department has these recommendations:

  • Wear long sleeves, long pants and socks while outdoors. Use an insect repellent with 20% to 30% DEET. It is safe to use during pregnancy, but repellents are not recommended for children younger than 2 months of age.
  • Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur in the evening or early morning because the hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes.
  • Remove any puddles of water or standing water, including in pet dishes, flower pots, wading and swimming pools, buckets, tarps and tires. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water.
  • Report bodies of stagnant water to your local mosquito abatement district.
  • Keep doors, windows and screens in good condition and make sure they fit tightly, so mosquitoes don't get in.