South Dakota reports more human West Nile

South Dakota reports more human West Nile The state Health Department reported Sept. 3 two more probable cases of human West Nile.

Testing at the State Public Health Laboratory in Pierre identified the virus in a 60-year-old female from rural Miller in Hand County and a 43-year-old female from Rutland in Lake County. The Miller resident is hospitalized in Aberdeen and the Rutland resident is being treated as an outpatient. Condition reports were not available.

The detections bring the number of human West Nile cases in South Dakota to seven. Probable cases have also been reported in Haakon, Lyman, Potter and Walworth counties.

South Dakota's first human case, reported Aug. 21 in Miner County, has moved from "probable" to "confirmed" following additional testing at the State Public Health Laboratory and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state laboratory has also reported 152 negative human tests for West Nile.

Nationally, there have been 638 cases of human West Nile reported and 31 deaths.

West Nile has now been reported in 59 counties in the state, in a total of 66 birds, 328 horses, and a sampling of mosquitoes. Counties that have not reported detections include Aurora, Buffalo, Custer, Shannon, and Ziebach.

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. Lon Kightlinger, State Epidemiologist for the Department of Health, 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.

The spread of WNV across South Dakota does increase the potential risk to humans. Dr. Kightlinger emphasized that the risk of West Nile is still low but encouraged people to take precautions to protect against mosquito bites:


* 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.

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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