The South Dakota Department of Health has confirmed the first death of West Nile Virus in the state in two years and this season.
The individual has not been identified but placed in the age group between 80 and 89. This marks the 74th confirmed case in the state with most of them being diagnosed with the common West Nile fever, 12 percent were found to suffer from the more severe neuro invasive diseases.
"We strongly encourage people to protect themselves and their families by using repellent and avoiding the outdoors when mosquitoes are most active,"Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist for the department said.
This also comes as most of the country is concerned over the Zika virus, which has recently created problems in the south with Miami, Florida creating quarantine zones and recording several cases of the virus spreading in the area. A concern for officials here because Zika could potentially become a problem in the Midwest but unlikely as of now.
"This unfortunate death is a reminder for us all that while the Zika virus is grabbing headlines, West Nile is the mosquito-borne virus of concern here in South Dakota,” Kightlinger said.
The department has issued several guidelines and tips for residents to adhere to to prevent a possible infections, these include:
- Apply mosquito repellents (DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus 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 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, outside pet dishes, and drain water from flower pots and garden containers. Support local mosquito control efforts.
These tips are especially important to follow if you are over 50 years, pregnant or may become pregnant, transplant recipient, diabetes or high blood pressure patients and if you experience severe headaches you should consult a physician.
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