Preventing West Nile


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Summer in KELOLAND can bring with it some unwelcome friends, like mosquitoes.

And experts say the mosquito level in Sioux Falls right now is high.

Tessa Stoltenburg says there’s no lack of mosquitoes keeping her company while jogging on the Sioux Falls bike trails.

“I stopped really briefly in the trees, I felt something on the back of my leg, and I was already getting bit by mosquitoes and I was like, I can’t believe I just stopped briefly. So definitely good to keep moving,” Stoltenburg said.

She got another bite while doing this interview with us — calling herself the mosquito magnet. But Stoltenburg is being cautious of the bugs, stating that she never goes outside without using bug spray.

“Especially when you’re outside and active and sweating. I always wear a sweat proof bug repellent. I really like the natural stuff because it seems to work well,” Stoltenburg said.

And that’s important, as the West Nile virus has been reported in South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska. Avera Health medical director of infectious disease Dr. Jawad Nazir says people are at the highest risk of getting West Nile right now.

“South Dakota has seen many years where we had a significant number of illnesses from West Nile virus and many patients had significant complications too you know. So I think prevention is really important,” Nazir said.

Experts say using bug repellent and wearing protective clothing can make a big difference, and if you see standing water make sure to avoid it.

Nazir says look for Environmental Protection Agency or EPA-registered insect repellents, containing deet. He says people with chronic illnesses or compromised immune systems and over the age of 60 are at the highest risk of having severe complications such as paralysis or death if they get the virus.

“Fever and body aches are kind of the major symptoms, but not everybody gets fever. So only 1 out of 5 who gets infection will manifest fever, or other symptoms of infection. So it can remain undiagnosed even if you have it,” Nazir said.

Luckily, he says most people with a healthy immune system will be able to fight it on their own. But if you’re someone at high risk and displaying symptoms, you should call your doctor.

For more information on how to prevent West Nile, click here.

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