Tag Archives: mosquito-borne diseases

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.

National Mosquito Control Awareness Week

There’s no overstating the role local governments play — or should play — in protecting citizens from mosquito-borne illnesses: They provide the first line of defense.

All communities need mosquito control programs

It’s National Mosquito Control Awareness Week, and it’s a good time to remind local officials of the need to be vigilant in protecting citizens amid continuing concern over the potential spread of Zika virus as well as other mosquito-borne illnesses.

It’s important for local officials to have mosquito control plans in place. No, every jurisdiction won’t be able to afford to provide the highest level of service, but they all can and should have some level of program. In areas where funding is a challenge, the key is to focus on public education and eliminating water-filled containers where mosquitoes breed.

While larger, more costly programs tend to have the elements in place to effectively combat mosquitoes, smaller programs also can do a credible job of protecting their citizens.

That was on display at the April 19 South Carolina Zika Forum where DHEC and its partners convened state and local officials to discuss Zika virus and resources available to local governments in recognition of their role as the front-line defense against the spread of any mosquito-borne viruses. Two very different yet effective mosquito control programs made presentations — a large one operated by Beaufort County and a smaller one operated by the city of Hartsville.

Different communities, same mosquito-prevention mission

In some ways, Beaufort County and Hartsville couldn’t be more different. Beaufort is an affluent, sizeable coastal county that covers nearly 600 square miles and is home to 180,000 residents. Hartsville is a small town in the Pee Dee with a population of roughly 7,900.

While they are of a different size, scope and region, the two communities have something in common when it comes to mosquito control. Both are being proactive in developing and implementing mosquito control programs that focus on citizen education, community outreach, mosquito surveillance, habitat elimination and integrating use of Environmental Protection Agency-regulated insecticides where appropriate. Both have developed Zika response plans.

Beaufort County’s program has a staff commensurate to meeting the needs of a large county that includes four municipalities as well. Beaufort is more aggressive about spraying to control mosquitoes. Its certified personnel employ state-of-the-art ground and aerial application equipment. The aircraft includes a plan — an OV-10 D Bronco — and a helicopter – an MD-500 D. In addition, it has seven spray trucks. The county also has a Mosquito Control Mobile Reporting App that allows citizens and visitors to report mosquito problems as well as dead birds for testing of possible West Nile Virus infections.

See Beaufort County’s mosquito control presentation from the SC Zika Forum.

Hartsville’s program, which is significantly smaller, focuses on controlling with mosquitoes within the city. The program is just a few years old and all the duties of mosquito control are handled by a two-man crew.

Hartsville puts heavy emphasis on education, outreach and source reduction. It also emphasizes that for mosquito control to be effective, the program must communicate with all city departments, including codes enforcement, utilities and environmental services.

While Hartsville doesn’t have a large, well-funded program, its staff is resourceful. For example, they instituted a bike program to conduct larviciding — the process of using biological agents to kill larvae — around storm drains and open ditches. Mounting bikes not only gets the job done, but it draws attention from the public and emphasizes the need for mosquito control.

See Hartsville’s mosquito control presentation from the SC Zika Forum.

Take time to learn more

 

Travelers Should Follow Zika Precautions

South Carolinians traveling to areas of the world affected by the Zika virus should protect themselves and their families from Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases.

Zika virus is currently circulating in several areas of the world, including countries and territories in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, the Pacific Islands and Cape Verde. It, along with other viruses, can be acquired from the bite of an infected mosquito.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that pregnant women in particular should not travel to areas with active Zika transmission as the virus may cause serious birth defects. Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other health care professional first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.

“We strongly advise that anyone – especially pregnant women – planning to travel be aware of the countries where Zika virus is circulating,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said. “In addition, travelers should consult with a health care provider and follow recommendations on avoiding mosquito bites to prevent all illnesses carried by mosquitoes.”

If you are traveling to a country where there is active Zika transmission, avoid mosquito bites by wearing EPA-approved repellent, wearing protective clothing and staying in facilities with air conditioning or with good window and door screens whenever possible.

Upon returning to the United States, continue to take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks, even if you don’t feel sick, to prevent possible spread of Zika to uninfected mosquitoes.

Sexual transmission of Zika virus from a male partner is possible, so men who have lived or traveled to areas with Zika and their partners should take special precautions to prevent spreading the virus. Pregnant women should avoid sexual contact with men who have recently been in an area with active Zika transmission or use a condom the right way every time. Women and men with possible exposure to Zika virus but no symptoms of Zika virus disease should wait at least eight weeks after exposure before trying to get pregnant.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 600 travel-related cases of Zika virus in the United States, including one confirmed case in South Carolina as of June 10, 2016. In all of these cases the virus was acquired while traveling to a country where Zika is spreading or sexually transmitted by someone who had acquired the virus while traveling. The virus is not currently known to be carried by mosquitoes in the United States.

Helpful information on travel and pregnancy can be found by viewing the following:

For more information on CDC travel advisories, visit http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/.

For additional information on Zika, visit www.scdhec.gov/Zika.

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