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West Nile Virus Risk Increasing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Thursday, July 26, 2018

CONTACT:  Dr. Joshua Clayton (Joshua.Clayton@state.sd.us), (605) 773-3737 


West Nile Virus Risk Increasing


PIERRE, S.D. – The West Nile virus (WNV) season is under way with human or mosquito detections in 11 counties across the state, the state Health Department reported today.

“The West Nile season typically peaks during the first part of August, so individuals are being exposed to West Nile now,” said Dr. Joshua Clayton, state epidemiologist for the department. “Individuals exposed today can take up to 1-2 weeks to first develop symptoms.”

Clayton said South Dakota had the highest rate in the nation of WNV neuroinvasive disease, where the virus infects the brain and spinal cord, in 2017 and he encouraged residents to reduce their risk by taking the following actions:

  • Apply mosquito repellents (DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, 2-undecanone or IR3535) to clothes and exposed skin.
  • Reduce mosquito exposure by wearing pants and long sleeves when outdoors.
  • Limit time outdoors from dusk to dawn when Culex mosquitoes, the primary carrier of WNV in South Dakota, are most active.
  • Get rid of standing water that gives mosquitoes a place to breed.
    • Regularly change water in bird baths, ornamental fountains and pet dishes.
    • Drain water from flower pots and garden containers.
    • Discard old tires, buckets, cans or other containers that can hold water.
    • Clean rain gutters to allow water to flow freely.
  • Support local mosquito control efforts.

These precautions are especially important for people at high risk for WNV, including individuals over 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 clinician.

Visit the department’s website at westnile.sd.gov for more information.


Preventing and controlling infectious disease is one objective of the Department of Health’s 2015-2020 strategic plan, http://doh.sd.gov/strategicplan.


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