Enjoy the holiday, but take precautions against West Nile virus
BROOKINGS, SD – As the Fourth of July weekend approaches, a South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service specialist reminds the public to take precautions against West Nile virus.
Kim Cassel, an Extension specialist who organizes public education efforts to combat West Nile virus, said that even though fewer cases were reported last summer, the disease is still serious.
“We’ve had a couple years where the number of West Nile virus cases were low, and we do not want people to become complacent about the disease,” said Cassel. “We want everyone to have fun, but at the same time, take the simple steps necessary to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.”
Cassel said recent rains and warm temperatures are two key factors that increase the potential for more Culex tarsalis mosquitoes in South Dakota.
“That mosquito is an efficient carrier of the disease, and we are entering the time of the season where the risk for transmission of West Nile virus is higher,” Cassel said. “More people will want to be outside to enjoy the summer and the Fourth of July, but take steps to protect yourself and your family.”
Many communities have active mosquito-control programs that reduce the risk of contracting the virus, but Cassel recommends the following personal steps to help reduce your risk:
• When outdoors, use insect repellent that contains an Environmental Protection Agency-registered active ingredient. The Extension Disaster Education Network’s West Nile virus webpage lists the products best for fighting the virus. The page is available at this link: http://eden.lsu.edu.
• Follow the label directions on all products.
• Many mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours.
• Make sure the screens on your windows and doors are intact to keep mosquitoes out.
• Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flowerpots, buckets, and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in birdbaths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children’s wading pools empty or overturned when they are not in use.
For more information, visit the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service West Nile virus page at this link: http://sdces.sdstate.edu/westnile/.
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