April's Ag Advice by April Borders As you have probably heard, the first West Nile case of 2004 has been confirmed for the state of South Dakota. According to Dr. Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist for the Department of Health, the detection of West Nile is earlier this year than we have seen in the past. In 2003, South Dakota reported 1,041 human cases of West Nile and 14 deaths. Human cases were reported in all counties across the state.
With the recent report, I would like to remind people to reduce your risk to West Nile by taking the following precautions:
* Eliminate standing water that gives mosquitoes a place to breed. Get rid of old tires and any other containers that accumulate water, regularly change the water in bird baths and outside pet dishes, drain water from flower pots and other garden containers.
* Screen all windows and doors and keep screens in good repair.
* Limit your time outdoors, especially at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
* Remember to use a mosquito repellent containing DEET when you are outdoors. Also wear shoes, socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt to limit mosquito exposure.
The city of Vermillion has mosquito magnets out and we are trapping and monitoring mosquito populations. Larvacide treatments have been done around the city in areas where standing water has been seen. Even though the city has a mosquito abatement program, we still have to do our part to control mosquitoes on our private property.
The Extension Office is also collecting dead birds to be tested for West Nile. The birds that we take are crows, blue jays, magpies and raptors. The fresher the bird is the better it is for shipping. Birds that are decomposed or that have maggots can not be tested. Do not touch the bird with your bare hands. Use rubber gloves when handling the birds. If you do not have rubber gloves, insert your hand into a plastic garbage bag, grasp the bird carefully, invert the bag over the bird and tie it shut. Then bring the bird to the Extension Office and we will ship it to the State Health Lab.
Dr. Kightlinger said, "This case is a wake up call that it's time for all of us to eliminate mosquito breeding areas and start protecting ourselves with mosquito repellent."
If you would like more information on mosquitoes and how to control them, please contact the Extension Office at 677-7111.