PIERRE – The Department of Health Friday reported a Hamlin County resident died of West Nile virus (WNV) associated causes, the state's first WNV related death this season. The individual was in the 80 to 89 age group.
To date this season, South Dakota has reported 39 cases of human WNV; 33 percent have had the most serious neruoinvasive disease while 67 percent have had WNV fever. Forty-four percent of cases have been hospitalized. So far this year, 14 West Nile-associated deaths have been reported nationwide.
“Our sympathy is with the family. We only hope their tragic loss will encourage others to take seriously the threat of West Nile and take steps to protect themselves,” said Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist for the department.
"We strongly encourage people to protect themselves and their families by using repellent and avoiding the outdoors when mosquitoes are most active."
Kightlinger said South Dakotans can reduce their risk with the following precautions:
These precautions are especially important for people at high risk for WNV – those over 50, pregnant women, transplant patients, individuals with diabetes or high blood pressure and those with a history of alcohol abuse. People with severe or unusual headaches should see their physicians.
For updated case numbers and prevention information, see http://westnile.sd.gov.