PIERRE, S.D.– Mosquito pools in Brookings and Hughes counties have yielded South Dakota’s first West Nile virus (WNV) detections of the season, the health department has reported.
To date, the state public health laboratory has tested 57 Culex mosquito pools from Brookings, Codington, Davison and Hughes counties, and the Brookings and Hughes pools are the first to test positive. In 2012 the first positive mosquito pool was detected July 2, and the first human case was reported July 13
“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.”
Kightlinger said people can prevent mosquito bites and reduce their risk of WNV by:
• Using mosquito repellents (DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535) and limit exposure by covering skin.
• 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 older than 50, pregnant women, transplant patients and people who have diabetes, high blood pressure or a history of alcohol abuse.
Since its first human WNV 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.
Learn more about preventing WNV at the department’s website, westnile.sd.gov, or the SDSU Extension site, www.sdstate.edu/sdces/issues/wnv.cfm.