- Associated Press - Thursday, May 29, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - State Health Department officials are reminding South Dakotans to take steps to reduce their risk of contracting West Nile disease, spread by mosquitoes, as the seasonal insect population increases.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Lon Kightlinger (KYT’-ling-ur) says rates of West Nile are disproportionately high in South Dakota.

Thirty two people have died of the disease in the state since 2002, and 2,111 have reportedly contracted the illness. Officials say there are many unreported cases.

People with high blood pressure, a history of alcohol abuse, diabetes or transplants, and those who are pregnant or over 50 are especially susceptible.

Individuals can reduce their risk of contraction by using mosquito repellant and limiting time outside.

Grants of $500,000 are available to South Dakota communities for West Nile prevention. Applications are due June 8.

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