The South Dakota Department of Health announced the first fatality from the virus on Wednesday.

“Our sympathy is with the family. We only hope their tragic loss will encourage others to take the threat of West Nile virus seriously,” said Dr. Joshua Clayton, state epidemiologist for the department. "We can’t emphasize enough how important it is for people to protect themselves and their families by using repellent and avoiding the outdoors when mosquitoes are most active."

The victim was between 80-89 years of age. South Dakota has had 10 cases confirmed that resulted in three hospitalizations.

In order to reduce your risk of contracting West Nile, there are some things you can do.

  • Apply mosquito repellents (DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, 2-undecanone or IR3535) to clothes and exposed skin.
  • Reduce mosquito exposure by wearing pants and long sleeves when outdoors.
  • Limit time outdoors from dusk to dawn when Culex mosquitoes, the primary carrier of WNV in South Dakota, are most active.
  • Get rid of standing water that gives mosquitoes a place to breed.
  • Regularly change the water in bird baths, ornamental fountains and pet dishes.
  • Drain water from flower pots and garden containers.
  • Discard old tires, buckets, cans or other containers that can hold water.
  • Clean rain gutters to allow water to flow freely.
  • Support local mosquito control efforts.

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