First cases of West Nile virus confirmed in South Dakota

(James Gathany/ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 10:16 AM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Health officials confirmed first two cases of West Nile virus in residents of Minnehaha and Spink Counties in South Dakota of the 2022 season.

According to the South Dakota Department of Health, the state has reported more than 2,681 human cases and 47 deaths since West Nile virus was first reported in 2002.

“West Nile Virus is an infection most commonly spread through mosquito bites,” said Dr. Joshua Clayton, state epidemiologist. Dr. Clayton says that the rate of severe infection includes swelling of the brain and spinal cord with symptoms of stiff neck, confusion, and muscle weakness is highest in South Dakota and other Midwest states.

Individuals over 50, pregnant women, organ transplant patients, individuals with cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease, and those with a history of alcohol abuse are those who are at high risk for WNV.

Individuals and families can reduce their risk by taking the following actions:

  • Apply mosquito repellents (DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, 2-undecanone, param-menthane-diol, or IR3535) to clothes and exposed skin. Limit exposure by wearing pants and long sleeves in the evening;
  • Limit time outdoors from dusk to midnight when mosquitoes are most active. Culex tarsalis are the primary carrier of WNV in South Dakota;
  • Remove standing water that gives mosquitoes a place to breed. Regularly change the water in birdbaths, outside pet dishes, and drain water from other flowerpots and garden containers and stay away from areas near standing water; and
  • Support local mosquito control efforts.

Visit the department’s website for more information about WNV and to learn about which jurisdictions received grant funding.

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