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First Human West Nile Virus Death of 2021 Reported

For Immediate Release: August 31, 2021

Contact: Daniel.Bucheli@state.sd.us  



First Human West Nile Virus Death of 2021 Reported


PIERRE, S.D. –  A 42-year-old female, Union County resident is South Dakota’s first human West Nile Virus (WNV) death of the 2021 season, the state Health Department confirmed today.  


“We are encouraging residents to take the necessary precautions to avoid contracting West Nile Virus. Simple, yet key mitigation strategies, like avoiding areas with sitting water and evening outdoor activities during mosquito season, can reduce risk,” said Daniel Bucheli, Communications Director for the Department of Health.


South Dakota has historically had a disproportionately high number of WNV cases compared to other states, and residents can 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 flowerpots and garden containers;
    • Discard old tires, buckets, cans or other containers that can hold water;
    • Clean rain gutters to allow water to flow freely; and
  • Support local mosquito control efforts.


Those most at risk from WNV include residents 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 physicians as soon as symptoms begin.


The state’s first human case was reported in 2001. Since then, South Dakota has reported 2,624 human cases and 47 deaths.


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