The human West Nile count is down in South Dakota compared with some of the more active virus years, but mosquito spraying continues in the state.
There are 12 confirmed human cases so far but that can change quickly. Aberdeen in historically hard hit Brown County has an aggressive mosquito control program. It hired a pilot to spray by air this week.
Workers for Aberdeen Mosquito Control were back spraying on the ground Friday. That adds to the efforts of a pilot who sprayed by air Thursday night.
"We just felt strongly that we needed to hit it hard,” Parks Superintendent Mark Hoven said.
With the Brown County Fair approaching, Hoven wants to knock down the mosquito population as a lot of people will visit the community. He also says a blanket spray over the city was needed.
City workers test mosquitoes they trap and three pools within the past week tested positive for West Nile. Also, a high percentage of trapped mosquitoes have been the kind that can carry the virus.
"Well I really wouldn't want to get West Nile so I would agree spraying is a good deal," Jessica Witlock said.
Witlock took a day trip to Aberdeen Friday with her kids and says she wasn’t bothered by bugs. The parks department is hopeful the aerial spray made a big difference. Trap counts Friday dropped by two-thirds compared with earlier in the week.
The cost of the aerial spray this time was more than $40,000. A city-wide ground spray is less than $10,000.
"So obviously a lot cheaper but you cover more square footage with your aerial and you get more wall to wall coverage when you do that," Hoven said. "It's a public health issue for us. We want to make sure we protect the public."
As Mosquito Control continues to spray, leaders say any of its tools are still open for use. They will even bring the pilot back to spray from the air if needed.
The pilot will usually cover 12,000 acres when spraying Aberdeen. He increased that number to 22,000 this time to treat more outlying areas and form a buffer zone around the city.