With DHEC announcing on August 1 that an individual in South Carolina was reported to be sick from West Nile virus — the first such occurrence in the 2018 mosquito season — it is important to protect yourself and your family against mosquito bites.
Be sure to pay attention to the most effective ways to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses:
Repellents help keep mosquitoes from biting. Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535 according to label instructions.
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, gutters, buckets, pool covers, birdbaths, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls.
Wearing light-colored clothing to cover the skin reduces the risk of bites.
“If you develop fever or other symptoms after being bitten by a mosquito, you should contact your health care provider,” said Dr. Linda Bell, SC State Epidemiologist.
What are the symptoms of West Nile virus disease?
Febrile illness in some people. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile virus disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.
Severe symptoms in a few people. Less than 1% of people who are infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). The symptoms of neurologic illness can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, or paralysis.
It’s National Mosquito Control Awareness Week (June 24-30), which is a good time to educate residents about mosquitoes and the diseases they carry and to urge everyone to do their part by protecting themselves and their homes from the potential spread of mosquito-borne illnesses.
Local governments and residents themselves provide the first line of defense. Be vigilant about protecting yourself from mosquito bites and ridding your homes and yards of containers where mosquitoes breed.
Get rid of and prevent standing water:
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 that water does not stand inside or near the ends of the pipe.
Clean out rain gutters and downspouts regularly. Clogged gutters are one of the most overlooked breeding sites for mosquitoes around homes.
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.
Wear insect repellent or protective clothing.
When used as directed, insect repellent is the best way to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Use a repellent that includes 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.