Zika vs. West Nile: Which Virus Poses More of a Threat to South Dakota
Now that its officially summer, mosquito's are going to be in full attack mode but which mosquito borne illness poses a more serious threat: Zika or West Nile virus? The answer is not clear cut.
Most people infected with West Nile virus do not experience any symptoms. In about 20% of infected people, symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches. In rare instances the virus can infect the human nervous system, causing diseases such as meningitis or encephalitis. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, As of January 2016, there have been 40 cases of people with the West Nile virus in South Dakota and no fatalities. The World Health Organization predicts that up to 4 million people in the Americas could be infected by the end of 2016.
As for Zika Virus, the most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects. Extreme illness or death is possible with Zika but it’s very rare.
The state epidemiologist, Lon Kightlinger says in the case of the Zika virus, South Dakota should be safer from infection saying:
“Zika virus, we don't think is going to impact South Dakota directly. We do not have the mosquito that transmits the Zika virus here in the state. It doesn't live this far north, it's too cold here." South Dakota hasn't had any confirmed cases reported of the Zika virus.
It was believed mosquitoes carrying Zika were only found in southern parts of the United States, but there have been recent reports of the virus hitting the state of New Jersey.