Prepare for West Nile

Prepare for West Nile by Doneen Hollingsworth Are you ready for the return of West Nile Virus this summer?

Last year the virus sickened 1,041 South Dakotans and took the lives of 14 and we know it will return this year. That's why we've been working with local officials for months to prepare. We've provided $900,000 in grants for local control programs to towns, counties and tribes who have budgeted at least that amount. That means more South Dakota communities than ever before will have a mosquito control program this summer. Those programs will provide an important layer of protection against mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus.

But South Dakotans shouldn't be complacent and assume that local control program is the only protection they need. Even the most effective mosquito control program can't kill every mosquito. That's why each one of us needs to take responsibility for protecting ourselves and our loved ones. Each one of us should reduce the risk of mosquito bites by:

* Screening all windows and doors and keeping screens in good repair.

* Eliminating standing water that gives mosquitoes a place to breed � getting rid of old tires and other containers that accumulate water, regularly changing water in bird baths and outside pet dishes, draining water from flower pots and other garden containers.

* Limiting time outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

* Using a mosquito repellent containing DEET and wearing shoes, socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt to limit mosquito exposure.

* Local officials across South Dakota are doing their part to reduce the risk of West Nile. Are we as individual South Dakotans ready to do the same?

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