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West Nile's biggest month looms

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news Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

PIERRE -- Look out ahead. August is the cruelest month for West Nile virus in South Dakota.

The latest surveillance report released Tuesday shows relatively few cases of human infections so far this summer, with just seven overall and one new case during the week of July 20.

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But the longer-range history of the virus in South Dakota shows the peak is yet to come.

From 2002 through 2011, there were 1,117 cases that began in the months of August, well above the 315 in the months of July and 287 in the months of August.

Last year followed the same pattern. When August was over, there had been two deaths and 119 human cases. That was the most since 2007 when there were 185 cases through August.

South Dakota finished 2012 with 203 cases of West Nile overall and three deaths. Nationally, the Centers for Communicable Diseases and Prevention reported 5,676 cases and 286 deaths.

The advice from State Epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger remains the same: When mosquitoes are active while people are outside, especially from dusk to dawn, wear long pants, long sleeves, socks and repellent.

If possible, get rid of any mosquito-breeding stagnant water. Mosquitoes seem to especially like discarded tires for egg laying. Adult mosquitoes like to find refuge in tall grass, weeds and shrubs.

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