Newly released numbers from the Centers for Disease Control show the recent West Nile Virus outbreak is the largest ever seen in the United States. We're finding out as of Tuesday more than 1,100 people have been infected nationwide. 41 people have died. In South Dakota, we're seeing high numbers.
Barbara Riley is concerned about the West Nile Virus.
"We're very tuned into it. It's not a topic of everyday conversation but folks are paying attention," Riley said.
She lives in Ohio. They're also dealing with an outbreak.
"We have a patio in our backyard and mosquitoes are out there so we fog for them and we also are cautious and go inside," Riley said.
But not everyone is like her.
"I've heard a little bit about it but haven't been watching much on it though," Thresa Goldsmith said.
And many people told us that today. West Nile is spread by mosquitoes which gets the virus from infected birds. Numbers released earlier in the week from the Centers for Disease Control show Texas having more than 530 West Nile cases this year. Mississippi almost 80. Louisiana 73 and in South Dakota 72. But our state numbers are rising. New information released Wednesday from the state's Department of Health shows the number is now up to 82.
"I know there is a level of ignorance of the West Nile Virus and how serious it is" Tim Matthias said.
And it has become serious. A South Dakota mosquito expert says the peak time for infected mosquitoes to feed is during the first and second week of August. Since we're nearing the end of August we shouldn't be seeing as many new cases. To control the mosquito population, Sioux Falls along with surrounding communities do routine sprays. Experts say the effort helps.
"I've seen it in a lot of different neighborhoods. Driving around I'll see them. If it helps, it's great," Goldsmith said.
Mosquitoes carrying West Nile usually stop feeding in mid-September. That's good news but they're still out there. So you should think about taking steps to cut your chances of getting the virus.
"I don't think we should be paranoid about it but we should be conscious of it and take precautions," Riley said.
These mosquitoes are around during the day but they love to bite after 10 at night. Here's what you can do if your outside: wear bug spray, wear long sleeves and pants and get rid of standing water near your home.
80% of people who have the virus don't have any symptoms. But 20% will have flu-like symptoms and could have swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back.
Keep in mind, symptoms won't start until three to 14 days after you get bit by the infected mosquito.
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