South Dakota still beats Mars for oxygen, but at least Mars doesn’t have mosquitoes. The buggers carrying Zika may not frequent South Dakota (either they haven’t seen GOED’s ads, or they too are suspicious of our regressive tax system), but state epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger says our fair state is the global “epicenter” for West Nile virus. Sioux Falls health chief Denise Patton says we have the worst West Nile stats:
Of the 43 different species of mosquitoes found in South Dakota, several are known carriers of the West Nile Virus. But the two most common carriers of the Zika virus, the Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti species, aren’t prevalent in the state.
“We are highest in the nation for West Nile Virus per capita every year,” Patton said. “The (Aedes) are a more tropical mosquito. They’re common in Florida or somewhere down south where it’s warm all the time” [Joe Sneve, “Tire Disposal Could Help Stave Off Zika Virus,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.05.12].
By my calculation of incidence and population estimates, South Dakota’s occurrence of West Nile per 100,000 people is seven times the national rate. The experts at SDSU predict South Dakota will see more mosquito activity and West Nile this year than last year due to warmer weather early this year, but West Nile risk will still be lower than 2012, which was a really bad year for bug-borne bugs.
We’re still only talking less than a 1 in 20,000 chance last year of getting West Nile in South Dakota, and no South Dakotans died from West Nile last year. We’re still more likely to get sick and die from food poisoning or from riding to Sturgis.
SDSU is using NASA satellite maps to keep track of our West Nile risk. Uff da—if satellites can pick them up, those must be awfully big mosquitoes.