Peak season for West Nile approaches

HealthBeat

One small bite can cause a lot of health problems, and even kill you. That’s why it’s important to take West Nile virus seriously. So far this season, the South Dakota Health Department confirms Beadle, Brown, Davison, and Minnehaha Counties have found mosquitoes with West Nile. One person, in Turner County, has had the virus this year. A day at the office is a walk in the park, or woods rather, for camp counselor Lauren Sevold.

“I love it so much. I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Sevold said.

Sevold has been working outside at Leif Ericson Day Camp all summer.

“Being out here all day, just doesn’t even feel like I’m at work. It’s so much fun,” Sevold said.

That doesn’t mean she doesn’t have an important job to do. She works hard to keep herself and her campers safe from West Nile.

“We’ve been spraying bug spray a lot. Making sure they’re getting it on a few times a day,” Sevold said.

The state health department so far lists West Nile season as moderate with 84 predicted cases. That’s way down from last year’s outbreak listing, with more than 150-cases.

“We’ve got a lot less virus circulating today, that could change in a few weeks,” Denise Patton said.

City of Sioux Falls Health Program Coordinator Denise Patton says she’s found mosquitoes in her traps that can carry the virus, but says it’s been a surprisingly mild year.

“It’s been very unusual with all of the rain, we kind of were preparing ourselves for this crazy crazy summer,” Patton said.

Peak season is late August and early September, so Patton warns we’re not in the clear from West Nile. The virus can give you flu-like symptoms and can also damage your neurological system.

“Either through encephalitis or meningitis and those are the ones that can really do damage and kill you. So, it’s nothing to mess around with,” Patton said.

As for Sevold, she says bug spray is a must this summer so she and her campers will stay healthy so they can return here next summer.

“It’s been such a great time. I can’t wait to come back next year,” Sevold said.

The City plans to spray Tuesday and Wednesday nights. To see a map of your zone, visit the City of Sioux Falls’ website.

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