The South Dakota Department of Health reported the first human West Nile virus (WNV) case of the year in a McCook County resident.
“Active transmission of West Nile virus is occurring in South Dakota and people need to protect themselves, especially during evening outdoor activities,” said Dr. Joshua Clayton, State Epidemiologist for the department.
Clayton said South Dakota has historically had 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 flowerpots 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.
The state’s first human case was reported in 2001. Since then, South Dakota has reported 2,613 human cases and 46 deaths.