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Hughes County resident first West Nile death in South Dakota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Monday, August 06, 2012
Lon Kightlinger, (605) 773-3737 


Hughes County resident first West Nile death in South Dakota


PIERRE, S.D. – The Department of Health today reported a Hughes County resident in the 80 to 89 age group has died of West Nile virus (WNV) encephalitis. It is the first WNV-related death reported in South Dakota since 2007.


"This unfortunate death is a sad reminder that those over age 50 are at higher risk for West Nile complications,” said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, State Epidemiologist for the Department of Health.


To prevent mosquito bites and reduce the risk of WNV, the department recommends the following personal precautions: 

  • Use mosquito repellents (DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535) and limit exposure by covering up.
  • Limit time outdoors from dusk to midnight when Culex mosquitoes are most active.
  • Get rid of standing water that gives mosquitoes a place to breed.
  • Support local mosquito control efforts.  


Personal precautions are especially important for those at high risk for WNV – people over 50, pregnant women, transplant patients, individuals with diabetes or high blood pressure, and those with a history of alcohol abuse. People with severe or unusual headaches should see their physicians.   


Thirteen South Dakota counties have now had WNV detections. There have been nine human WNV cases, seven positive blood donors, one positive horse, one positive bird and 34 positive mosquito pools.


Since its first case in 2002, South Dakota has reported more than 1,700 human WNV cases and 27 deaths.


Find WNV prevention information on the Web at http://westnile.sd.gov. Information is also available from the SDSU Cooperative Extension Service at http://www.sdstate.edu/sdces/issues/wnv.cfm