Sioux Falls Physician Warns Of West Nile Threat Over Zika

HealthBeat

This year, concerns over the Zika Virus have dominated headlines across the country.
Some are wondering if the virus will become a problem in KELOLAND. But a local doctor is suggesting we focus more attention on a virus right in our backyards.

When Andrea Gerritsen heads outside with her family, she knows she could be confronted with a pesky problem.

“We always know that when we’re out hiking and stuff that there’s mosquitoes around there, so we just try to be aware of that,” Gerritsen said.

Gerritsen uses insect repellent to fend off a problem that has plagued KELOLAND for 14 years: West Nile.

“It’s always in the back of my mind, with my kids especially,” Gerritsen said.

If you ask Dr. Fares Masannat, that’s the mosquito-borne virus people in KELOLAND should be focused on fighting right now.

“The mosquito that carries West Nile is present and it’s abundant in South Dakota. The mosquito that transmits Zika is not present in South Dakota,” Dr. Fares Masannat said.

While Zika is something to keep an eye on, according to Masannat, local mosquitoes that carry West Nile are the insects you’ll want to watch out for. The virus can land people on different ends of the spectrum.

“Most people who develop West Nile have no symptoms or have very mild symptoms, so they don’t even get sick enough to go to the hospital. However, we have seen patients develop meningitis or have got very ill because of the virus,” Masannat said.

Health officials say you can protect yourself against the West Nile virus by using mosquito repellent, limiting our time outside from dust to midnight, and getting rid of standing water. The mosquitoes who could be carrying Zika are most common during daytime hours. 

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