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First West Nile mosquitoes found

  • Updated

West Nile virus has been detected in mosquito pools in Hughes and Brookings counties, the South Dakota Department of Health reported Friday.

The detections are the first of the season. Last summer, the first positive mosquito pool was detected July 2 and the first human case of West Nile virus was reported July 13.

Since its first human West Nile virus case in 2002, South Dakota has reported more than 2,000 cases, including 29 deaths. South Dakota cases have occurred as early as June but peak transmission is July through early September.

“This will be the twelfth year of West Nile transmission in South Dakota and it may be tempting to be complacent,” said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist for the Department of Health. “But West Nile can be a serious, even fatal illness, and we need to get in the habit of protecting ourselves by using repellents, limiting exposure and getting rid of mosquito breeding spots.”

To date, the state's public health laboratory has tested 57 culex mosquito pools in four counties.

Kightlinger recommends:

• Using mosquito repellents (DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535) and limit exposure by covering up.

• Limiting time outdoors from dusk to midnight when Culex mosquitoes are most active. Culex are the primary carrier of WNV in South Dakota.

• Getting rid of standing water that gives mosquitoes a place to breed.

• Supporting local mosquito control efforts.

These precautions are especially important for people at high risk for complications from WNV. This includes individuals over 50, pregnant women, transplant patients, and people who have diabetes, high blood pressure or a history of alcohol abuse.

Contact Mary Garrigan at 394-8424 or mary.garrigan@rapidcityjournal.com

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