A Todd County blood donor is South Dakota’s first human West Nile virus (WNV) detection of the season, the state Health Department reported. The person is in the 30 to 39 age group.
“This individual was not ill but was detected through the routine screening of blood donations that takes place to make sure the blood supply is safe,” said Dr. Joshua Clayton, State Epidemiologist for the department. “It’s a clear indication that mosquito-to-human WNV transmission is taking place and people need to protect themselves.”
Clayton said South Dakota has a disproportionately high number of WNV cases compared to other states and he encouraged residents to reduce their risk by taking the following actions:
- Apply mosquito repellents (DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, 2-undecanone or IR3535) to clothes and exposed skin.
- Reduce mosquito exposure by wearing pants and long sleeves when outdoors.
- Limit time outdoors from dusk to dawn when Culex mosquitoes, the primary carrier of WNV in South Dakota, are most active.
- Get rid of standing water that gives mosquitoes a place to breed.
- Regularly change water in bird baths, ornamental fountains and pet dishes.
- Drain water from flower pots and garden containers.
- Discard old tires, buckets, cans or other containers that can hold water.
- Clean rain gutters to allow water to flow freely.
- Support local mosquito control efforts.
These precautions are especially important for people at high risk for WNV, including 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. People with severe or unusual headaches should see their physicians.