A Utah mother has urged residents to take preventative measures against West Nile virus after her son became seriously ill, officials said.
Ryan Stuart, 37, can no longer walk or eat on his own and only speaks a few mostly inaudibly words after contracting the neuro-invasive form of the disease, his mother, Gina Vodopich, said. He spent more than a week at Intermountain McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden after he collapsed while irrigating his yard at his new home.
Stuart has inflammation in his brain, comes in and out of consciousness and has developed meningitis and encephalitis, Vodopich said.
Stuart's case is the first human West Nile infection in Weber County this year, but the disease has been detected across the state, including in Utah County and southern Utah, the Utah Department of Health said.
"The most effective way of preventing West Nile Virus is to prevent mosquito bites," said Amy Carter, a public health nurse with Weber-Morgan Health Department.
People should use Environmental Protection Agency-approved mosquito repellent with deet and wear long sleeves and pants throughout the day to avoid the mosquito-borne disease, health officials said.
More than 70% of people infected with West Nile never develop symptoms, the department said. Symptoms can include headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea or rash.
Less than 1% could develop a serious neurologic illness, such as meningitis, officials said. One in 10 people who suffer the neuro-invasive form of West Nile could die from the affliction.