Monday, August 22, 2016

Zika Virus: What to do after Returning from the Olympics

(Salt Lake City) – Utah public health officials are urging Utahns returning from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil and other countries with ongoing Zika virus transmission to take certain precautions to prevent illness. Visit for the most current list of countries affected by Zika virus.

Zika virus is transmitted to humans primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus). And while there is no evidence these mosquitoes are currently in Utah, residents should still take precautions to reduce the potential spread of Zika virus. Unlike the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus, mosquitoes infected with Zika virus can spread the virus to other people through bites. Even if someone doesn’t feel sick, travelers returning to the United States from an area with Zika virus should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks, such as using insect repellant with DEET and removing breeding areas from around homes.

Zika can also be passed through sex from a person who has Zika virus to his or her sex partners. (Sex includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex.) Only people with sex partners who live in or traveled to an area with Zika virus are at risk for getting Zika virus infection through sex.

Zika virus can be passed through sex, before symptoms start, while a person has symptoms, and after their symptoms end. Though not well documented, the virus may also be passed by a person who carries the virus, but never develops symptoms.

Most people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms
such as fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. But a pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her
 fetus that can result in severe birth defects, such as microcephaly (small head and brain) and
other severe brain defects that may lead to long-term developmental problems. Infection during pregnancy can also increase the chance for miscarriage, eye defects, hearing loss, and impaired growth. 

It is not yet known how often Zika infected pregnancies will result in problems. There is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus, and no specific medical treatment for those who are infected.
The CDC recommends special precautions for the following groups:
Women who are pregnant:
If you have a partner who lives in or has traveled to Brazil or any other Zika-affected area, either use condoms (or other barriers to prevent infection) or do not have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) during your pregnancy.
Women who are trying to become pregnant:
o Before you or your partner travel or after returning from a Zika-affected area, talk to your doctor about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection.
o Recommendations for people who DO NOT live in an area with Zika virus and had possible exposure through recent travel or unprotected sex with a man infected with Zika virus:
Zika Symptoms - Wait at least 6 months after your symptoms start before trying to get pregnant.
No Zika Symptoms - Wait at least 8 weeks after you may have been exposed to Zika before trying to get pregnant.

For women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant and have questions about Zika virus, please contact the MotherToBaby program at 1-800-822-2229, text 855-999-3525,  chat live or email or visit

Media Contact
Charla Haley
 (c) 801-230-5927

Thursday, August 4, 2016

State Agencies to Host Health Fair with Local Tribe

WHAT: The Utah Department of Health and the Utah National Guard will host a first-of-its-kind health fair with the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute at their annual Pow Wow. The fair will be hosted on the Goshute Reservation in Ibapah and will include immunizations, dental screenings, other health screenings, and exercise and nutritional counseling.

This is the first time the Department of Health and National Guard have collaborated on a mission together.

The Utah National Guard Medical Command will also fly one of its Black Hawk helicopters to the event. 

WHY: Utah’s American Indian population often lives in medically underserved areas and suffer a greater burden of disease than the general Utah population. The health fair will help provide critical health screenings, prevention education, outreach and services to this population.

VISUALS: Utah National Guard Black Hawk helicopter (arriving at approximately 1:30)
Tribal members receiving health screenings (all day)
Traditional Pow Wow dancing and drumming (1 p.m. and 7 p.m.)
Honor song for the military and veterans
WHO: Utah Department of Health and Utah National Guard Medical Command

WHEN: Saturday, August 6, 2016
8 a.m. – 7 p.m.

WHERE: Goshute Reservation – Pow Wow Grounds
Ibapah, Utah
Directions: From Wendover, turn south on US-93, proceed south for approximately 25 miles to  Ibapah  Rd., turn left and follow Ibapah Rd. for another 33 miles.  

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Media Contact:
Melissa Zito, Utah Department of Health
(o) 801-273-6644
(m) 801-712-9346

Monday, July 18, 2016

Public Health Officials Investigating Unique Case of Zika

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Utah health officials confirmed today a new case of Zika in Utah and have launched an investigation to determine how the person became infected. The new case is a family contact who helped care for the individual who died from unknown causes and who had been infected with Zika after traveling to an area with Zika. 

Laboratories at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in Utah confirmed Zika infection in both Utah residents. A CDC team is in Utah to help with the investigation. 

The new case is the eighth Utah resident to be diagnosed with Zika. Based on what is known now, the person has not recently traveled to an area with Zika and has not had sex with someone who is infected with Zika or who has traveled to an area with Zika. In addition, there is no evidence at this time that mosquitoes that commonly spread Zika (aedes species) virus are in Utah. 

The investigation is focused on determining how the eighth case became infected after having contact with the deceased patient who had a uniquely high amount of virus in the blood. 

“Our knowledge of this virus continues to evolve and our investigation is expected to help us better understand how this individual became infected,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, deputy state epidemiologist at the UDOH. “Based on what we know so far about this case, there is no evidence that there is any risk of Zika virus transmission among the general public in Utah.”

Public health investigators are interviewing the person and family contacts to learn more about the types of contact they had with deceased patient. They are also collecting samples for testing from family members and others who had contact with the deceased patient while they were ill and are working in the communities where the two cases lived to trap and test mosquitoes.

“We’re doing our part as public health officials to learn more about the virus and about this specific case,” said Gary Edwards, executive director of the SLCOHD. “In the meantime, the public, and especially pregnant women, should continue to take recommended steps to protect themselves from Zika virus.”

The CDC recommends that women who are pregnant not travel to areas with Zika. They should also use condoms or not have sex with partners who have traveled to or live in an area with Zika for the duration of their pregnancy. For a list of areas with Zika visit  CDC also recommends people take steps to prevent mosquito bites:

More tips on Zika prevention are available at

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Media Contacts:
Tom Hudachko
Utah Department of Health
(o) 801-538-6232
(m) 801-560-4649

Pam Davenport
Salt Lake County Health Department
(o) 385-468-4122

Zika Virus Investigation Update

What: The Utah Department of Health (UDOH), Salt Lake County Health Department (SLCOHD), University of Utah Health Care and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will update the media on an on-going investigation of a unique Zika virus case in Utah.

Who: Gary Edwards, Health Officer, SLCOHD
                Angela Dunn, MD, Deputy State Epidemiologist, UDOH
Ed Clark, MD, Associate Vice President of Clinical Affairs, University of Utah Health Care
Erin Staples, MD, PhD, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
When:  Monday, July 18, 2016 
                10 a.m.

Where: Salt Lake County Government Center, Council Chambers
2001 S. State 
                Salt Lake City, Utah
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Media Contact:
Tom Hudachko
Utah Department of Health

Don't Use Water from Utah Lake, Jordan River, or Related Canals

SALT LAKE CITY -- Elevated levels of a harmful algae in Jordan River and lower Little Cottonwood Creek have prompted state and local agencies to post warning signs and limit access to the Jordan River system. Utah Lake remains closed.

Algal blooms can last for days or weeks and toxins can last for days after the bloom. Response agencies don't expect to have a forecast on when the water can be used for any purpose for at least a week.

This warning does not affect drinking water, since it comes from a separate source.

Residents who receive secondary water from the Jordan River should not use it. Secondary water is commonly used for watering lawns and gardens.

Salt Lake County Health Department is posting warning signs at all major recreational access points to the Jordan River within Salt Lake County; the Jordan River and all canals in the county are potentially unsafe for people and animals. The river is not closed at this time.

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) strongly advises farmers and ranchers against using water from Utah Lake for food production, especially fruits and vegetables, and livestock watering until lab results are available early next week. If farmers and ranchers have access to other water sources UDAF advises them to use those alternative sources to water crops, livestock and other animals.

Pet owners are also advised to keep animals away from the lake, river and canals and should not let them drink the water. Pets that have been exposed to affected waters and are exhibiting symptoms should be seen by a veterinarian. Symptoms in pets include weakness, fatigue and excessive saliva production.

Anglers are also currently advised not to fish, or consume fish from Utah and sections of the Jordan River that feed in and out of the lake. Anyone who has caught fish from those areas in, or after July 10,  is advised to not consume their catch.

North Jordan Irrigation Company has been shutting down weirs to slow irrigation flow to their customers..

Sampling in Utah Lake on July 13 led to the discovery of the harmful cyanobacteria. The toxins that can be produced by the species can cause liver damage and/or neurological damage. Toxin

data will be available on Tuesday or Wednesday. Exposure to the algae can cause vomiting, headaches, and skin rashes. Contact your physician or the Utah Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) if you believe you may be experiencing symptoms from exposure to a harmful algal bloom.

For updates on lake and river conditions in Utah County, go to and sign up for an account. After signing up, select the method of contact, create a profile, and select a location. Then choose the alert subscription for “Utah Lake” under “Utah County Alerts.”  
Agencies involved include various State agency departments, including the departments of Agriculture and Food, Environmental Quality, Health, Natural Resources, Public Safety and various divisions within those departments. At the local level, responding agencies include the Utah County, Salt Lake County health departments, irrigation companies and water districts, as well as the municipalities in the affected counties.

Donna Kemp Spangler
Utah Department of Environmental Quality
801-536-4484 (office)
801-554-4944 (cell)