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Agency Detects Nineteen New Human Cases of West Nile Virus in South Dakota

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Aug. 14--Nineteen new human cases of the West Nile virus have been detected in South Dakota, bringing the total cases to 77 in the state this season.

That's more than double last year's total of 37 human cases.

The state Health Department reported Wednesday that Brown, Butte, Corson, Hand, Jerauld, Lyman, Minnehaha, Shannon, Stanley, Yankton and Ziebach counties each have one new human WNV case.

Two new human cases have been detected in both Dewey and Pennington counties, while Hughes County has four new cases, the Department of Health reported.

So far, like in 2002, no deaths have been attributed to the virus this year in South Dakota, which currently ranks second in the nation for human WNV infections. Colorado is first and Texas third. Nationwide, 393 people have contracted the virus and nine have died.

More human cases will certainly be detected in South Dakota before the first frost, health officials said. The cold weather kills the mosquitoes that spread WNV.

"The next two weeks will be tough weeks," said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist. "We need to get people away from the 'swamp mentality' " that mosquitoes don't exist in dry areas.

Eighty-eight percent of this year's infected South Dakotans reside west of the James River -- the area of the state currently experiencing drought, said the Health Department. Last year, both dry and wetter areas had human WNV cases, Kightlinger said.

Seventeen of this year's human cases have been diagnosed with meningoencephalitis, a swelling of the brain that is the most severe form of the virus. Forty-one other infected individuals have the West Nile fever, which includes flu-like symptoms.

Diagnosis is pending on the remaining 19 cases.

Forty-eight percent of the cases have been male, 52 percent female. The median age is 49, with ages ranging from 7 to 88. Sixty-five percent of the cases have been in humans older than age 50.

There have also been 29 asymptomatic individuals detected through routine screenings of blood donations since July 1.

These people have tested positive for the virus but haven't shown any symptoms.

Including these cases, 106 South Dakotans are currently known to be infected by WNV.

Human cases have been found in 40 of the state's 66 counties.

Virus detections in birds, horses and mosquito pools indicate that the virus is widespread in the state and residents need to take all possible precautions to avoid mosquito bites, Kightlinger said.

The Department of Health urges communities to strongly consider adult mosquito control measures.

These efforts should include removing places where mosquitoes breed, using insecticide to kill mosquito larvae, communitywide spraying to eradicate adult mosquitoes, and local public education.

The city of Aberdeen sprayed the Brown County Fairgrounds earlier this week, but as of Wednesday no plans were in place for additional citywide spraying in the immediate future.

City workers continue to treat standing water in Aberdeen with insecticide.

For more information on West Nile Virus, visit the state's West Nile Web site at


To see more of the American News, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

(c) 2003, American News, Aberdeen, S.D. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

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