SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The first two human cases of the West Nile virus have been detected in South Dakota. 

According to the South Dakota Department of Health, the cases are in Minnehaha and Spink Counties. Since 2002, South Dakota has reported 2,681 human cases of West Nile, which have resulted in 47 deaths. 

“West Nile Virus is an infection most commonly spread through mosquito bites,” Dr. Joshua Clayton, state epidemiologist, said in a news release. “The rate of severe infection that includes swelling of the brain and spinal cord with symptoms of stiff neck, confusion, and muscle weakness is highest in South Dakota and other Midwest states. Raising awareness of human cases can ensure residents and visitors alike take action to reduce their risk.” 

Health officials advise people to apply mosquito repellents to clothes and exposed skin and limit exposure outside by wearing pants and long sleeves in the evening, when mosquitoes are most active. 

Those most at risk from West Nile include residents over 50, pregnant women, organ transplant patients, individuals with cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease, and those with a history of alcohol abuse. 

In 2021, a 42-year-old Union County woman died from the West Nile virus.