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State detects first human West Nile cases of the summer

When a raindrop hits a mosquito, the mosquito and drop join together, and the mosquito rides the drop for about a thousandth of a second before its wings, which act like kites, pull it out of the water.
CDC Public Health Image Library
When a raindrop hits a mosquito, the mosquito and drop join together, and the mosquito rides the drop for about a thousandth of a second before its wings, which act like kites, pull it out of the water.

Two human cases of the West Nile virus have been detected in South Dakota — the state's first human cases of the summer. The virus, which is spread through mosquito bites, has appeared in Minnehaha and Spink counties.

The Midwest has the highest risk associated with the virus, State Epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton said in a news release. He said the rate of severe infection that includes swelling of the brain and the 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," Clayton said.

The Department of Health advises the best way to protect against the virus is to apply mosquito repellent to clothes and exposed skin. Other tips are on the department's West Nile webpage.

Clayton noted that over 200 cities and tribes in South Dakota have received funding from the department to help control mosquitoes.

South Dakota has reported more than 2,681 human cases and 47 deaths since West Nile virus was first reported here in 2002.

Marissa Brunkhorst is a junior at the University of South Dakota. She is from Hutchinson, Minnesota and is based out of the Vermillion studio.