South Dakota's first West Nile virus cases of 2022 reported in Spink, Minnehaha counties

Elisa Sand
Aberdeen News

South Dakota's first two human West Nile virus cases of the year have been reported in Spink and Minnehaha counties, according to a news release from the state health department.

Since 2002, 2,681 human cases and 47 human deaths have been reported in South Dakota.

A moderate season of around 77 cases is predicted, according to the South Dakota Department of Health website detailing 2022 West Nile information.

“West Nile Virus is an infection most commonly spread through mosquito bites,” Dr. Joshua Clayton, state epidemiologist, said in the release. “The rate of severe infection that includes swelling of the brain and spinal cord with symptoms of stiff neck, confusion, and muscle weakness is highest in South Dakota and other Midwest states. Raising awareness of human cases can ensure residents and visitors alike take action to reduce their risk.”

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Counties and cities routinely test for the virus in mosquitoes caught in traps. A positive test indicates there are mosquitoes with the virus in the area. Brown, Codington and Minnehaha counties are among those that have reported positive pools.

To reduce the chances of getting the virus, people can:

  • Use mosquito repellant on clothes and exposed skin and wear pants and long sleeves in the evening.
  • Limit time outdoors from dusk to midnight, which is when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Empty containers with standing water to reduce places where mosquitoes can breed.

More:South Dakota reports first West Nile virus detection of season in Brown County

These precautions are especially important for people at high risk for West Nile virus, according to the state. Those groups include people 50 and older; pregnant women; organ transplant patients; individuals with cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease; and those with a history of alcohol abuse, according to the health department. People with severe or unusual headaches should see their physicians, per the releas