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June 29, 2010 06:15 PM

Where Is West Nile?

Sioux Falls, SD


With all the recent rain we've seen in KELOLAND, it's a safe bet more mosquitoes will find their way to your arms and legs.
  But does that mean we could see more cases of West Nile Virus? 

So far this season, no mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile Virus and the same goes for humans.  But despite what your backyard may be telling you, it's still early in the season.

Over the past eight years, South Dakota has seen its number of cases peak in August.  In fact, 91 percent of those mosquito bites happened between mid-July and mid-September.

"Seems like some years, there's a lot of variation.  Some years, hardly any cases; some years a little bit more," Infectious Disease Dr. Aris Assimacopoulos said.

But we've also watched the number of West Nile cases consistently drop.

"It is kind of what we thought was gonna happen. When West Nile comes into an area and there's people that don't have any immunity at all, you're gonna see a lot of cases," Assimacopoulos said.

Assimacopoulos says the theory is many of us may have already been infected and didn't even know it.

"That's the current thinking.  That once you get it, you're immune for life," Assimacopoulos said.

But that also doesn't mean we're in the clear.  If the past holds true, South Dakota could see more people get the disease than anywhere else in the U.S. and the symptoms vary.

"Some people have no symptoms whatsoever.  Some people have mild fever, mild headache and they may think they just had a cold or flu and then they're done. And other people can have very, very bad disease where they're admitted to the hospital.  They have brain dysfunction.  They can't think. They're in a coma and everything in between," Assimacopoulos said.

But getting rid of the problem is as easy as getting rid of standing water and using insect repellant.

"Yeah, there does seem to be a lot of mosquitoes and of course, it has to infect a certain type of mosquito that can cross over between birds and humans, " Assimacopoulos said

But we'll have to wait to find out whether that perfect storm will take shape. 

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of West Nile Virus.
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