State official: Prevent West Nile virus with insect repellent, mosquito control
PIERRE -- As the weather warms up and the risk of mosquito bites increases, now is the time for South Dakotans to get in the habit of using insect repellent to prevent West Nile virus.
"Just as we prepare for flu season each fall, we need to be prepared for the West Nile virus every summer," said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist for the South Dakota Department of Health.
"West Nile virus can be a serious, even fatal, illness but the good news is we can all reduce our risk with a few simple precautions."
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 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.
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.