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DHEC urges South Carolinians to protect against mosquito bites in light of West Nile Virus identification

Identification of West Nile Virus in mosquitoes in South Carolina is a reminder of the importance of protecting against mosquito bites, and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is urging residents to take precautions.

“The most important step anyone can take to prevent West Nile virus infection and other mosquito-borne illnesses is to protect against being bitten by a mosquito,” said Linda Bell, M.D., state epidemiologist.

So far this year in South Carolina, West Nile Virus has been detected in mosquitoes at the Joint Base Charleston and the Shaw Air Force Base. It has also been detected in mosquitoes in Oconee, Sumter and York Counties. In addition to mosquitoes, DHEC has confirmed the first human cases of West Nile Virus in South Carolina this year.

“Most people infected with West Nile Virus have no symptoms of illness,” said Dr. Bell. “About one in five people infected becomes ill within two to 14 days with symptoms including fever, headache, joint pain, muscle pain, and occasionally nausea and vomiting. Often they experience sensitivity to light and inflammation of the eyelids. Some may have a rash. The risk of serious illness is low. Less than one percent of people infected develop a potentially fatal swelling of the brain, known as encephalitis.”

Dr. Bell said that West Nile Virus is a disease of birds transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected after feeding on infected birds.

DHEC recommends residents pay attention to the most effective ways to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon, eucalyptus, or IR 3535 according to label instructions. Repellents help keep mosquitoes from biting.
  • Wear clothing that reduces the risk of skin exposure.
  • Exposure to mosquitoes is most common during the early morning. Some species bite during the day, especially in wooded or other shaded areas. Avoid exposure during these times and in these areas. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes.
  • Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flowerpots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls.
  • For more information on how to prevent mosquito bites, click here.

For more information about WNV, visit www.scdhec.gov/westnile or the CDC’s page, www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm.

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New S.C. Active Mines Viewer App

Did you know that there are 474 active mines in South Carolina? S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has launched a new web-based application to make it easier for the public to find, filter and download mining information across the state.

The S.C. Active Mines Viewer is a GIS map that displays the locations of all actively permitted mines in South Carolina to make it easier for the public to find information that is relevant to their community or business. The mines are categorized into eight mineral groups including clay, gold, granite, limestone, sand, sericite, shale and vermiculite.

The legend allows the user to view a specific mineral group or view all mines.

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The search function allows the user to search by mine name, permit number, or by county.

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The table function allows the user to view a table of additional information about the mines, such as latitude and longitude, mineral group and type, and mine operator.

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The user can download this information and print a copy of the current map view.

Active Mine Viewer printable map

Whether you’re a public contractor looking for a source of construction materials or an interested constituent looking for information on what type of minerals are mined in your community, the S.C. Active Mines Viewer is an easy-to-use resource.

You can check out the app on your computer or mobile device by visiting: https://gis.dhec.sc.gov/activeminesviewer/

About Mining Regulations

Mining in South Carolina is regulated by the S.C. Mining Act, S.C. Code Ann. 48-20-10, et seq. (Rev. 2008). The Act ensures that all land and water associated with mine activity receive a practical degree of protection and restoration. DHEC is authorized to issue permits for mine operations and ensure that mines comply with laws and regulations.

For more information about mining regulation and permitting, visit www.scdhec.gov/Environment/LW/MiningandReclamation/.

 

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Sproles Recognized for Flood Recovery Efforts

Rebecca Sproles (center) served in the state’s Disaster Recovery Office from October 2015 until July 31, 2016. She is pictured here with Gov. Nikki Haley and State Disaster Recovery Coordinator Kevin Shwedo. 

A sense of hope from communities and her fellow South Carolinians. That’s what Rebecca Sproles will take away from her almost a year of working to help the state recover from the October 2015 floods.

“We had many volunteer agencies come into our state shortly after the flood water receded and immediately took action,” she said.  “These volunteers worked tirelessly, and still are, to help the citizens of South Carolina get back in their homes.  It has been rewarding to see whole communities coming together to help each other.”

A 15-year DHEC veteran who works in the Environmental Affairs Office of Applied Science and Community Engagement, Rebecca spent the past nine months serving full-time in the state Disaster Recovery Office. She was a liaison between DHEC, the Disaster Recovery Office and Long Term Recovery Committees.

Her duties included communicating DHEC’s mission regarding mold, mosquitoes and dams. She also answered questions about drinking water, wells and drainage issues and attended public meetings.

“Rebecca has done an amazing job carrying the DHEC banner in the disaster recovery effort,” said Environmental Affairs Director Myra Reece.  “I appreciate her willingness to take on this incredibly important task and representing the agency so well. We are happy to have her back with us in Environmental Affairs and look forward utilizing the knowledge and skills she obtained in this effort.”

Thank you, Rebecca, for your dedication to helping the Palmetto State in its time of need and for truly exemplifying DHEC’s core values of embracing service and pursuing excellence!

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CDC offers K-12 schools guidance on Zika prevention and response

It’s the beginning of yet another school year, and parents are rightly asking many questions in an effort to make sure students will get the best instruction, guidance and care possible.

What is the teacher’s homework policy and how often does he give tests? How much experience does the school nurse have? Where will medications be kept and how quickly will a student be able to access them if needed? What’s the school’s emergency dismissal plan?

What’s the plan to prevent and respond to the threat of Zika at school?

Wait. What was that? A plan for dealing with Zika? At school?

While parents are not used to asking that question, the fact is schools, like individual households, cities and counties and other entities, can’t ignore the potential spread of Zika.

But schools aren’t left to their own devices. The Centers for Disease Control has developed interim guidance for district leaders and administrators at K-12 schools. The guidance includes information for planning school-related activities and recommends actions schools, in consultation with local public health authorities and government officials, can take to reduce the potential risk for Zika virus transmission on school premises and among students.

CDC notes that there is no evidence that the risk for Zika being transmitted on school properties will be higher than in other local areas. The virus is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, through sexual contact, or from a pregnant woman to her fetus.

The CDC guidance, which will be updated as new information becomes available, provides an overview of the potential roles and responsibilities of public health authorities and school officials, describes prevention measures that schools can take to reduce mosquito exposure, and provides information on responding to a case of travel-associated Zika virus infection or confirmed local mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus. Considerations for child care, camp and higher education settings also are addressed.

Click here for information on interim guidance for Zika response planning for district and school administrators.

The latest available Zika virus information, including answers to commonly asked questions, can be found here.

Information on mosquitoes and Zika can also be found at scdhec.gov/mosquitoes or scdhec.gov/zika.

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The Best Way to Enjoy World Mosquito Day: Avoid the Insect’s Bite

Happy World Mosquito Day. Yes, even the pesky mosquito gets a day in the sun. But not for the best of reasons.

World Mosquito Day, which is August 20, was established in 1897, when the link between mosquitoes and malaria transmission was discovered by Sir Ronald Ross. The intent was to raise awareness about malaria and how it can be prevented, as well as raise money to help find a cure.

These days, it serves as an opportunity to remind people that the mosquito’s bite can produce far more than just an itch. While Zika is in the spotlight right now, mosquitoes also carry a host of other diseases that can cause serious health issues.

The most common diseases that could potentially be carried by mosquitoes in South Carolina, home to at least 61 different species, include: West Nile, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, La Crosse encephalitis, Saint Louis encephalitis virus, and dog/cat heartworm.

But you’re not totally at the mosquitoes’ mercy. There are ways to protect yourself.

  • Reduce the numbers of adult mosquitoes around your home.
    • Drain, fill or eliminate sites that have standing water.
    • Empty or throw away containers — from bottles and jars to tires and kiddie pools — that have standing water.
  • Keep mosquitoes outside: Use air conditioning or make sure that you repair and use window/door screens.
  • Avoid Mosquitoes: Most mosquito species bite during dawn, dusk, twilight hours and night. Some species bite during the day, especially in wooded or other shaded areas. Avoid exposure during these times and in these areas.
  • Wear insect repellent: When used as directed, insect repellent is the BEST way to protect yourself from mosquito bites—even children and pregnant women should protect themselves. Choose a repellent that contain one of the following:
    • DEET: Products containing DEET include Cutter, OFF!, Skintastic.
    • Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin): Products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan outside the United States).
    • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD: Repel contains OLE.
    • IR3535: Products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart.
    • More repellent information
  • Cover up: When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.

So, slap on the repellent, empty or get rid of containers in your yard holding water and, above all, enjoy World Mosquito Day in the best way possible — by avoiding mosquito bites.

Click here to learn more about protecting yourself and your home from mosquitoes.

For more information on Zika, visit cdc.gov/zika or scdhec.gov/zika.