How Sioux Falls will use grant money to fight West Nile Virus

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Dozens of South Dakota communities are getting extra help for mosquito control. The Department of Health gave $500,000 to more than 200 cities, counties, and tribes. The money is to help them prevent West Nile Virus. The Fourth of July fireworks burned out days ago, but this is the part of summer when we see a different kind of boom: mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus.

“We haven’t found anything yet. So, that’s good news,” Denise Patton, health program coordinator for Sioux Falls vector control, said.

Sioux Falls will have another way to fight that virus. It received $20,000 from the state. Patton says her department will use that money in a few ways. First, it’ll allow her crews to fight mosquitoes in areas that are just outside of Sioux Falls.

“The grant is going to help us do a little bit more in the sense that we’re looking at some of those little pockets of housing, just right outside the city limits that haven’t been annexed in yet, but do have a population that utilize Sioux Falls,” Patton said. “Obviously mosquitoes fly, so they don’t know where city limits are, but we can get to some of those little areas.”

Second, the money will pay for biological control. This isn’t as complicated as it sounds, and involves something a lot of us use as bait.

“Instead of just doing product applications and sprays, we’re also placing minnows into some larger areas that have water throughout the year,” Patton said. “Fathead minnows actually eat larvae aggressively.”

Patton says recent rains have left a lot of standing water, which is growing the population of mosquitoes that bite. So far, Jeff Griebel says he hasn’t had any problems during his visit to Sioux Falls.

“I’m from Minnesota. I haven’t had, we have mosquitoes, but they haven’t been bad,” Griebel said. “Being here in this (Sertoma Park) today, it’s been really nice,” Griebel said.

$20,000 seems like a lot of money, but Patton says it’s needed to cut the fuse before the problem blows up.

“Mosquitoes seem super small and in some ways it seems really easy. If there’s a mosquito, you can kill it. But, if there’s hundreds of them, thousands of them and they emerge and we have all this interesting weather; it’s just, it’s a never-ending cycle.

In case you are wondering, Patton says there’s still no evidence mosquitoes can carry and spread COVID-19.

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