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West Nile Cases Increase

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Friday, August 17, 2012
Lon Kightlinger, (605) 773-3737 


West Nile Cases Increase


PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota is reporting 26 new cases of human West Nile virus (WNV), bringing the total to 67 this year. That’s the highest number of cases since 2007 when 208 human cases were reported.


“Case numbers fluctuate from year to year but the virus is endemic to South Dakota and we can expect to see cases each summer,” said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, State Epidemiologist for the Department of Health. “We encourage people to make using insect repellent part of their summer routine the same way we urge them to get flu shots each fall and winter.”


Kightlinger noted that historically, mid-August is the peak time for WNV case onset in South Dakota so more cases are expected.


So far the virus has been detected in 28 of South Dakota’s 66 counties. There have been 67 human cases reported, including one death. There have also been 22 WNV positive blood donors, six positive horses, one positive bird and 56 positive mosquito pools.  


Prevent mosquito bites and reduce the 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.
  • Getting rid of standing water that gives mosquitoes a place to breed.
  • Supporting local mosquito control efforts.  


These 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.   


Since its first case in 2002, South Dakota has reported more than 1,800 human WNV cases and 27 deaths.


Learn more about WNV prevention on the department’s website at westnile.sd.gov or the SDSU Cooperative Extension Service at www.sdstate.edu/sdces/issues/wnv.cfm