Five more cases of human West Nile reported in S.D.

Five more cases of human West Nile reported in S.D. The state Department of Health reported five additional cases of human West Nile Sept. 13. One case each was reported in Davison, Faulk, and Haakon Counties and two cases were reported in Hughes County. That brings to 18 the total number of human West Nile cases reported in the state.

The median age of the South Dakota cases is 54, with ages ranging from 2 to 92. Twenty-seven percent have been female and 72 percent male. There have been no deaths reported.

Previous cases have been reported in Brown (1), Haakon (2), Hand (1), Hughes (2), Lake (1), Lyman (3), Miner (1), Potter (1) and Walworth Counties (1).

The state laboratory has also reported 265 negative human tests for West Nile. "Three counties have now reported multiple cases of human West Nile," said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist. "It's particularly important that people in these areas continue taking steps to prevent mosquito bites."

He offered the following precautions:


* Get rid of old tires and other containers where water can accumulate and serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.


* Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.


* Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when in mosquito infested areas.


* Use mosquito repellents containing DEET, making sure to follow the directions on the container.


* Use bug lights and screen doors and windows.


* Communities in affected areas should consider adult mosquito control.

West Nile has now been reported in 65 counties in the state, in a total of 74 birds, 527 horses, and a sampling of mosquitoes. The only county that has not reported a detection is Ziebach.

Nationally, there have been 1,295 cases of human West Nile reported and 54 deaths.

West Nile is primarily a bird disease, and crows are especially susceptible. Mosquitoes become infected by feeding on an infected bird and can pass the virus to humans, horses or other hosts when they bite. Dr. Kightlinger said most people who become infected do not become ill. Some may develop mild flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, and occasionally swollen lymph glands or a rash. In rare cases West Nile may cause encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain. Individuals with severe or unusual headaches should seek medical care as soon as possible.

South Dakota physicians are asked to be vigilant for patients who may be suffering from West Nile encephalitis. Human testing is available at the State Public Health Laboratory in Pierre.

Horse vaccination is recommended. Horse owners should see their veterinarians. Samples from horses suspected of infection with West Nile can be tested at SDSU's Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory.

More information about West Nile can be found on the Department of Health Web site at www.state.sd.us/doh/WestNile/ and on the Animal Industry Board Web site at www.state.sd.us/aib/

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