Take steps to prevent West Nile Virus

Take steps to prevent West Nile Virus By Doneen Hollingsworth This summer will be the fourth West Nile virus transmission season in South Dakota. Over the past three seasons, the virus sickened 1,129 South Dakotans and took the lives of 15.

While nobody can predict how severe the West Nile outbreak will be this summer, we do know the virus will be circulating in South Dakota again. The risk of disease increases if we fail to protect ourselves.

Local officials and communities are again stepping up with local mosquito control programs. The state has helped that effort with $476,291 in matching grants for control equipment and chemicals. More South Dakota communities than ever before will have local mosquito control programs. The local control programs are an important layer of protection against mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus but they are only one layer.

It�s also critical that each one of us take responsibility for protecting ourselves and our loved ones. There are simple, common-sense steps we can all take to reduce the risk of mosquito bites:

?�Keep mosquitoes out of your house by screening all windows and doors and keeping the screens in good repair.

? Eliminate standing water that gives mosquitoes a place to breed. Get rid of old tires and other containers that accumulate water, regularly change water in bird baths and outside pet dishes, and drain water from flower pots and other garden containers.

?�Limit your time outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

?�Use a mosquito repellent containing DEET and wear shoes, socks long pants and a long sleeved shirt to limit mosquito exposure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, repellents containing Picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus are also effective.

The most successful mosquito control program will not eliminate every mosquito. We need to do our part by helping to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds and by using personal protection. The combination of the two is the most effective way to reduce the risk of West Nile in South Dakota.

For more information, visit the Department of Health web site at http://West Nile.sd.gov.

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