Many in South Dakota welcome the arrival of spring and summer. But the season can also bring swarms of pesky mosquitoes. The State Department of Health awards grants funding to help local governments control mosquito populations and prevent West Nile virus.
South Dakota’s West Nile epidemic peaked back in 2003. Since then, the number of West Nile cases has decreased from over 1,000 to 40 reported illnesses last year.
Lon Kightlinger is the state epidemiologist. He says mosquito control programs and grant funding help reduce the number of West Nile cases each year.
“Most communities now have some kind of mosquito control program. We did a survey back before West Nile hit and we found that just a handful of towns had any kind of mosquito control, and now we up- our last survey we had over 90 percent of communities do either larva siting, killing the baby mosquitoes in the water or adulticiding, which is spraying adult mosquitoes,” says Kightlinger.
Kightlinger says east central South Dakota generally has the highest number of reported West Nile illnesses.
“Some towns in South Dakota are just prime mosquito habitat. We have a lot of communities in the pothole section of the state where the slew or the cattails or the little ponds come right up to the edge of town and they grow a lot of mosquitoes. Aberdeen would be one of those towns: the lay of the land, the flatness, the lack of drainage just helps mosquitoes along so they really need good mosquito control activity. Other parts of the state that seem to be drier and higher altitude, like Lead and Deadwood, they don’t have much of a mosquito problem,” says Kightlinger.
Any town, county, or tribe can apply for the mosquito control grant. Awards range from $500 to $20,000.