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South Dakota reports first West Nile virus cases of the season

State health officials identified two cases, in Minnehaha and Spink counties. South Dakota has reported more than 2,681 human cases and 47 deaths since West Nile virus was first reported in the state in 2002.

Two culex tarsallis mosquitoes with white and black striped torsos stand nextx to each other on a webbed piece of fabric
South Dakota health officials reported the first human cases of West Nile virus in the state in the 2020 season on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. The mosquito species Culex tarsalis is responsible for transmitting the virus to humans.
Contributed / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota state health officials say they've detected human cases of West Nile virus for the first time in the 2022 season.

Two people, in Minnehaha and Spink counties, tested positive for the virus, the South Dakota Department of Health reported Wednesday, Aug. 3.

The state has reported more than 2,681 human cases and 47 deaths since West Nile virus was first reported in the state in 2002.

“West Nile virus is an infection most commonly spread through mosquito bites,” state epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton in a news release. “The rate of severe infection that includes swelling of the brain and spinal cord with symptoms of stiff neck, confusion, and muscle weakness is highest in South Dakota and other Midwest states. Raising awareness of human cases can ensure residents and visitors alike take action to reduce their risk.”

The mosquito species Culex tarsalis is the primary carrier of West Nile virus in South Dakota.

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State health officials recommended individuals take precautions to reduce their risk of becoming infected by West Nile virus, especially for people at high risk, including individuals over age 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 Department of Health recommended.

Recommended precautions:

  • Apply mosquito repellents (DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, 2-undecanone, param-menthane-diol or IR3535) to clothes and exposed skin.
  • Limit exposure by wearing pants and long sleeves in the evening.
  • Limit time outdoors from dusk to midnight when mosquitoes are most active. 
  • Remove standing water that gives mosquitoes a place to breed: Regularly change the water in birdbaths, outside pet dishes, and drain water from other flowerpots and garden containers and stay away from areas near standing water.
  • Support local mosquito control efforts.

For more information, visit the state Department of Health's West Nile virus website at doh.sd.gov/diseases/infectious/wnv .

To see which South Dakota counties have reported cases, visit the Department of Health's West Nile virus case surveillance page at doh.sd.gov/diseases/infectious/wnv/surveillance.aspx.

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Related Topics: SOUTH DAKOTA
Jeremy Fugleberg is an editor who manages coverage of health (NewsMD), history and true crime (The Vault) for Forum News Service, the regional wire service of Forum Communications Co, and is a member of the company's Editorial Advisory Board.
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