PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota Health Department officials say it's time for people to start using insect repellant and take other steps to avoid being infected by the West Nile virus.

State epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger says West Nile virus can be serious and even fatal, but people can reduce the risk by taking some simple precautions.

Kightlinger says people should use mosquito repellants and wear clothing that limits exposure to mosquitoes carrying the virus. He says people also should limit the time they spend outdoors from dusk to midnight, the time when mosquitoes carrying the virus are most active.

Kightlinger also says people should get rid of standing water that gives mosquitoes a place to breed.

Since 2002, South Dakota has reported more than 2,000 cases of West Nile virus, including 29 deaths.

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