Use insect repellent and wear protective clothing when we’re outside in the evening— even when it doesn’t feel like mosquitoes are biting.  It’s West Nile Virus season!

Early predictions show that we’re on track for an above-average to average year for West Nile Virus in South Dakota, noted South Dakota State University professor Michael Wimberly, a senior scientist at the Geospatial Sciences Center of Excellence.

He and biology and microbiology professor Michael Hildreth, the mosquito expert, use data on weather conditions gathered from Earth imaging satellites and mosquitos collected in traps at designated sites statewide to help community mosquito control officers target West Nile Virus-carrying mosquitoes. Their predictive model is based on 16 years of data.

Wimberly, who built and continues to refine the predictive model, comment on how environmental factors affect the risk of West Nile virus and is available at michael.wimberly@sdstate.edu or (605) 695-0869. He has been making yearly predictions since 2010.

Hildreth works with mosquito surveillance, tracking virus amplification based on mosquitoes trapped at locations across the state. He can be reached at Michael.hildreth@sdstate.edu or (605) at 605-691-9073.

Weekly forecasts are available at www.mosquito.sdstate.edu, thanks to support from the South Dakota Department of Health and a grant from the NASA Applied Science Public Health and Air Quality Program. That helps the public and mosquito control officials plan ahead.