Tag Archives: mosquito control

DHEC in the News: South Carolina Adopt-a-Stream program, Reedy Falls, mosquito control grant

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

The SCAAS program, which will mirror the Georgia Adopt-a-Stream (GAAAS) program, will promote and expand existing South Carolina volunteer stream monitoring efforts by providing volunteer monitors with a website for information, a database to maintain water quality monitoring data, training classes and materials, and other useful resources. Many volunteer organizations in South Carolina have already been using the Georgia program to monitor and record water quality in the streams and rivers around the Palmetto State.

  • The City of Greenville has begun a restoration project on Reedy Falls.

The stream bank restoration project is expected to take a week. Boulders are being placed along the Reedy River bank to help prevent erosion and create a safer slope between the river and sidewalk.

The grant provides funds to purchase additional insecticides and improved spraying equipment as well as to help pay for training in effective mosquito control procedures.

DHEC in the News: mosquito spraying, crisis stabilization unit reopens

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around the state.

Mosquito spraying will begin soon in Williamsburg County:

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

DHEC has granted a special waiver to allow The Charleston Dorchester Mental Health Center to reopen a facility aimed at keeping more non-violent, mentally ill patients out of jails and hospitals.

Existing regulations required all patients have a chest X-ray done at least 30 days prior to entering the crisis unit:

While the requirement still exists, DHEC has given the local facility, the only one of its kind in the state, a special waiver, Blalock said.
——

Center officials are currently working alongside DHEC to acquire a “crisis stabilization” license, which the state doesn’t yet have.

For more news from DHEC, visit Live Healthy SC.

 

 

Facing Down Mosquitoes after a Hurricane

Rain and flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew left many areas of South Carolina saturated with standing water — prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes are cold-blooded and do not thrive in cooler temperatures, so cold snaps in the weather can help reduce the likelihood of excessive mosquito breeding.  But don’t leave it to chance; do your part to reduce mosquito populations and lessen the chance of your family being exposed to these pesky, and potentially harmful, insects.

This isn’t just about the bothersome itch a mosquito’s bite might cause; the insect can carry harmful diseases, including Zika, West Nile and more.

Rid your home of places where mosquitoes breed

Mosquitoes breed in standing water. One of the most important steps in controlling them is to identify all of the places where water can accumulate on your property and eliminate them as possible breeding grounds.

  • 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.
  • Remove debris from gutters.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fix leaky pipes and outdoor faucets.
  • Cover trash containers/garbage cans to keep rainwater from accumulating.
  • Keep boats and canoes drained and covered/overturned.
  • Drain or get rid of old tires by recycling them.
  • Pack tree holes and hollow stumps with sand or cement.

Avoid mosquito bites and possible exposure to mosquito-borne illnesses.

  • Apply EPA-approved insect repellent to protect you during time spent outdoors.
  • Repair damaged or broken doors and screens.
  • Wear light-colored clothes with long sleeves and long pants.
  • Close garage doors at night.

If you have mosquito problems in your area, visit DHEC’s mosquito information page and click on “Local Mosquito Control” in the menu box for a list of local mosquito control agency contacts.

Learn more about eliminating mosquito breeding sites and preventing mosquito bites at the DHEC website.

You can help prevent the spread of Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases

 

Linda Bell, MD
State Epidemiologist
Clinical Services

Summer is here — and so is peak mosquito season, along with irritating bites and the threat of disease.

South Carolina is home to at least 61 different species of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes in our state might carry West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis or other viruses or parasites. The newest potential threat is the Zika virus, a typically mild virus for the general population, but one that can cause birth defects in infants when contracted by pregnant women.

As of August 1, South Carolina has had 26 travel-associated cases of Zika virus; 25 were in travelers infected abroad and diagnosed after they returned home. One case involved a S.C. resident who had sexual contact with someone who acquired the Zika infection while traveling.

Although mosquitoes in South Carolina do not carry the Zika virus at this time, there is a chance that some species could one day transmit the virus in our local communities.

We must be prepared.

DHEC, local governments and other partners came together this spring at the South Carolina Zika Forum to discuss and plan for the key roles we play in preventing and responding to Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases.  But we need your help, too. Citizens are the first line of defense.

You can help protect our state against the Zika virus. Or West Nile. Or any other mosquito-borne illnesses. And you don’t have to be an expert.

You don’t even have to leave your own yard.  Simply take responsibility for ridding your property and home of mosquito-breeding grounds and protecting your family against bites.

Two of the main types of mosquitoes known to transmit the Zika virus are present in South Carolina and are commonly found near homes and buildings. They can breed in containers holding water. Even something as small as a bottle cap. Frequently emptying or removing containers that hold standing or stagnant water from your property is one of the most effective ways to reduce the presence of mosquitoes and prevent the spread of disease.

DHEC is urging residents to leave no stone unturned as they seek to silence the buzz and eliminate mosquito-breeding spots. Among other things:

  • Clear out weeds, leaves, dirt and other debris from pipes.
  • Repair leaky pipes and outdoor faucets.
  • Clean out rain gutters and downspouts regularly.
  • Empty and turn over or put away containers that can hold water, such as: cans, jars, drums, bottles, flower pots, children’s toys, old appliances, etc.
  • Make sure all permanent water containers, such as wells, septic tanks, 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.
  • Drain old tires or recycle them.
  • Use biological agents such as mosquito dunks or torpedoes to treat containers without lids or that can’t be lifted and emptied.

In addition to eliminating breeding sites, protect yourself from mosquito bites.

  • When you go outside, apply an EPA-recommended mosquito repellent to your skin or wear protective clothing.
  • Wear light colors and avoid wearing scented products outdoors.
  • Be careful when applying insect repellents to children and babies:
    • Spray repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
    • Do not apply repellent to a child’s hands, mouth, cut or irritated skin.
    • Do not use Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus on children younger than 3 years old.  Do not use repellents containing DEET on babies younger than 2 months old.
  • Keep car windows rolled up and garage doors closed at night.
  • Make sure all screens on windows and doors are intact and installed properly.

Currently, all S.C. Zika cases are travel-associated. Before traveling, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Travelers Health website (cdc.gov/travel) to see if your destination has any travel health notices and to find tips on preventing Zika infection during and after trips. CDC recommends pregnant women avoid areas with active Zika virus transmission.

For its part, DHEC monitors for mosquito-borne diseases that can be spread to people and provides information to reduce mosquito populations and prevent bites. The agency also encourages local governments to protect citizens through local mosquito control programs and local ordinances, and by treating standing water in roadside ditches and other areas.

Ultimately, it will take the best efforts of the entire community to provide an appropriate response to the risk that Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses present.

Rid your home and yard of trouble spots today. The sooner, the better.

 

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