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South Dakotans Can Protect Themselves From West Nile

Officials at the Department of Health say that although no cases have been reported so far this year, more than twenty-one-hundred people in South Dakota have been infected with West Nile since 2002 - thirty-two people have died from it.

State Epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger says people can protect themselves against the virus.

“People need to start protecting themselves pretty soon now because summer is upon us and the best way to protect yourself is to use mosquito repellent when you’re outside especially in the evening because that’s when the mosquito that carries the West Nile - that’s when they bite,” says Kightlinger.

Kightlinger says not everybody who gets infected with the virus will get sick enough to require medical attention. He says those older than fifty or that have weakened immune systems are most at risk. Some of the symptoms of the West Nile virus are fever, rash, fatigue, and swollen lymph glands – symptoms may not appear for up to two weeks. Kightlinger adds that the virus is not contagious – he says the only way to contract it is to get bit by an infected mosquito.