Category Archives: Disease Control

Be on the look out for ticks; they can spread diseases

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that tick-borne diseases are on the rise. Everyone should take steps to prevent the diseases, particularly during the spring, summer and early-fall, when ticks are most active.

May through July is when people get more tick bites and tick-borne diseases than any other time of year in the United States, the CDC says on its website. During this season, it’s important to protect yourself, your loved ones and your pets from ticks.

Ticks cause Lyme disease, other illnesses

Ticks could be in the areas where we live, work and play; infected ticks can carry diseases, such as Lyme disease.

Lyme disease, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. While the CDC says more than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported nationwide, it notes that studies suggest the actual number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease is more likely about 300,000. Typical symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and a skin rash. If left untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system. Patients treated with appropriate antibiotics, such as doxycycline or amoxicillin, in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely.

The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tick-borne diseases as well.
Concern has been raised about a potentially deadly tick-borne illness spreading across the country called the Powassan virus. It’s carried by the same tick that carries Lyme disease. Most cases have occurred in the Northeast and Great Lakes region.

Take steps to protect against ticks

Taking steps to protect yourself and your family from getting a tick bite is the best defense against Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. The CDC recommends that people:

  • Avoid areas with high grass and leaf litter; walk in the center of trails when hiking.
  • Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin.
  • Use products that contain permethrin to treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents or look for clothing pre-treated with permethrin.
  • Treat dogs for ticks, using tick collars, sprays, shampoos, etc. Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and accompanying diseases, and could bring ticks inside.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming inside to wash off and find ticks before they bite.

Take action now to control mosquitoes and avoid illnesses they might spread

Mosquito season isn’t in full swing, but we don’t have to wait until the pesky insects that can spread diseases such as Zika have us surrounded before taking action.

Now is the time to take precautions to limit the mosquito population and the possible spread of mosquito-borne diseases. It begins by cleaning up around your own home and yard. It’s especially important to get rid of and prevent standing water. Here are some suggestions:

  • Get rid of places where adult mosquitoes can find cool, dark and damp areas to rest by mowing the lawn, trimming shrubbery and cutting down weeds and vines, such as ivy, in the yard and next to the house.
  • Clear out weeds, leaves, dirt and other debris from pipes, especially those under a driveway. Make sure water does not stand inside or near the ends of the pipe.
  • Clean out rain gutters and downspouts regularly.
  • Empty and turn over containers that hold water such as cans, jars, drums, bottles, flower pots, buckets, children’s toys, wheel barrows, old appliances, plastic sheeting or tarps used to cover objects like grills or swimming pools, etc.
  • Drain or fill any low places, such as potholes, on your property where water collects and stands for more than five to seven days.
  • Make sure that all permanent water containers such as wells, septic tanks, cisterns, water tanks and cesspools are tightly covered and insect-proof.
  • Repair leaky pipes and outdoor faucets.
  • Cover trash containers/garbage cans to keep rainwater from accumulating.
  • Keep boats and canoes drained and covered/overturned. Make sure tarps or other covers do not hold water.
  • Drain or get rid of old tires by recycling them.
  • Pack tree holes and hollow stumps with sand or cement.

There are a number of other steps you can take to defend yourselves against mosquitoes. To learn about treating standing water that can’t be drained and preventing mosquito bites, visit scdhec.gov/mosquitoes/eliminatebreedingareas.

It’s spring: Protect yourself and your family against mosquitoes

After yet another warm winter in South Carolina, spring is upon us — and so is mosquito season.

As you and your family head outside, remember that now is the time to begin taking action to protect yourself and your loved ones from mosquitoes — even if mosquitoes are the unofficial state bird!

Mosquitoes can spread diseases

South Carolina is home to at least 61 different species of mosquitoes. Anyone who has lived here for any length of time has faced this itch-causing menace on an almost daily basis during the spring, summer and fall. Most of the time, we are only concerned with the pain from the mosquito’s bite, but we also need to be aware that mosquitoes can spread diseases that may result in illness.

Some mosquitoes in South Carolina have been known to carry West Nile virusEastern Equine Encephalitis, and other viruses or parasites. Since the beginning of 2016, there has been heightened concern over the Zika virus. Fortunately, there have been no confirmed local Zika cases caused by South Carolina mosquitoes. All known cases of Zika in our state, to date, have been travel or sexual contact related.

You can help control the mosquito population

It is critical that we all join forces and do our part to combat the threat of mosquito-borne viruses and parasites. We must be vigilant about controlling the mosquito population in our own yards and communities while protecting ourselves from bites. You can begin by removing, regularly emptying or filling in any objects in your yard or home that might hold water in order to eliminate breeding sites. When searching for mosquito breeding spots on your property, leave no stone unturned.

To help reduce mosquito populations on your property:

  • Clear out weeds, leaves, dirt and other debris from pipes.
  • Repair leaky pipes and outdoor faucets.
  • Regularly clean out rain gutters and downspouts.cleaning-gutters
  • Empty and turn over containers that hold water, such as cans, jars, drums, bottles, flower pots, buckets, children’s toys, wheelbarrows, old appliances, tarps used to cover grills or swimming pools, etc. Don’t forget to scrub containers to remove any mosquito eggs that remain attached to the walls (Tip, Toss, Turn and Scrub!).
  • Make sure that all permanent water containers — such as wells, septic tanks, cisterns, water tanks and cesspools — are tightly covered and insect-proof.
  • Change the water in bird baths and empty and clean out children’s wading pools at least once a week.
  • Clean out and change the water in your pet’s water bowl or trough every day.
  • Clean out larger livestock troughs weekly.
  • Cover trash containers and garbage cans to keep rainwater from accumulating.
  • Drain or get rid of old tires by recycling them.

When outside, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts (the lighter in color, the better). You may also choose to apply a mosquito repellent — either a spray or wipe — per manufacturer instructions to help shield you. Avoid wearing perfume or scented products. Also, keep car windows rolled up and garage doors closed at night. Ensure all of your windows and doors have intact screens and seal properly.

Learn more

Visit DHEC’s mosquito information page for additional information about protecting yourself from mosquito bites, eliminating breeding areas, local mosquito control and more.

DHEC encourages South Carolinians to take precautions against Zika at home and abroad

As springtime approaches, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is urging residents to take precautions now at home or while traveling to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika.

Many South Carolinians are preparing for trips abroad, whether it be for spring break, mission trips or just vacations. Many of those destinations are warmer locations where mosquito populations are known to transmit Zika and other diseases. DHEC encourages all those travelers to do their part to prevent mosquito bites.

Take care when traveling to an area with active transmission

“When traveling to any country with active Zika transmission, travelers should proactively take steps to prevent mosquito bites, such as using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, and staying in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens,” said Linda Bell, M.D. and state epidemiologist. “Zika is actively spreading in several areas of the world, including countries and territories in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, the Pacific Islands and Cape Verde.”

Individuals planning to travel should consult a travel clinic or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website to see if they are traveling to an area with active Zika transmission. A complete list of countries and locations with active transmission can be found here: cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html.

There have been 61 travel-related cases of Zika virus reported in South Carolina since April 2016. However, there have been no cases caused by mosquitoes in the state. “To help ensure this remains the case, it is very important for travelers to take these necessary precautions,” continued Dr. Bell.

Take precautions on the home front too

With temperatures rising in South Carolina, action on the home front is also needed to help fight mosquitoes. Eliminating breeding grounds is the No. 1 way to reduce mosquito populations, and all individuals can do their part by simply tipping and tossing any container with standing water.

“Mosquitoes have the ability to spread illnesses other than Zika, such as West Nile virus, chikungunya, dengue and eastern equine encephalitis,” said Dr. Bell.

Most people infected with the Zika virus do not have any symptoms. When symptoms are present, the most common are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Oftentimes, symptoms of Zika infection can be mild, yet last as long as one week. Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other severe birth defects. The virus can also be passed through sex. The CDC recommends that all women who are pregnant should not travel to areas abroad where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

Learn more about prevention

For more information on steps that individuals can take to prevent mosquito bites and eliminate mosquito breeding grounds around their homes, visit www.scdhec.gov/mosquitoes. For more information on the Zika virus, visit www.scdhec.gov/zika.

Morning News: Smart Mosquito Traps, Flu in Orangeburg, Boil Water Advisory, Random Acts of Kindness

News for February 17:

The high number of flu cases across South Carolina has led to visitation restrictions at the Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg County:

Testament to how widespread the flu is comes from none other than the hospital. The Regional Medical Center has restricted patient visitation temporarily because of influenza.

“We have seen an increase in the number of flu cases as the season has progressed,” RMC Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. John Samies said Wednesday. “To protect our patients and their families, we have closed the doors to all inpatient units and have restricted visitation to immediate family members over the age of 12 only. Children under the age of 12 will not be permitted to enter any of the inpatient units.”

Remember, it’s not too late to get a flu shot. Find a clinic near you.

A boil water advisory has been issued for Valley Public Service Authority Water System customers:

General Manager Calvin Smith advises the customers of the water system residing on Pinegrove Road, Old Chavous Road, Bailey Drive, Sapp Drive, Divine Drive, Pepper Branch Road, Scottsville Road, C.C. Camp Road, Storm Court and a portion of Storm Branch Road that the water service has been interrupted for emergency repairs due to an unforeseen waterline break on Thursday.

Find information on what to do in a boil water emergency here.

Have we found new high-tech way to fight mosquitoes? Microsoft is testing a “smart trap” to do just that:

A smart trap for mosquitoes? A new high-tech version is promising to catch the bloodsuckers while letting friendlier insects escape – and even record the exact weather conditions when different species emerge to bite.

Whether it really could improve public health is still to be determined. But when the robotic traps were pilot-tested around Houston last summer, they accurately captured particular mosquito species – those capable of spreading the Zika virus and certain other diseases – that health officials wanted to track, researchers reported Thursday.

It’s Random Acts of Kindness Day! Use this “kindness generator” for ideas on doing something great!