Tag Archives: repellent

Protect Yourself Against Mosquito-borne Illnesses Such As West Nile Virus

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.

For more information about preventing mosquito bites and the spread of West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses, go to www.scdhec.gov/mosquitoes. Learn more about West Nile virus at www.scdhec.gov/westnile.

National Mosquito Control Awareness Week

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.

Learn more

Have a safe and fun-filled summer

The weather is heating up, children are fast moving toward the final days of school and visions of summer fun are dancing in the heads of families all across South Carolina. Have fun, but be careful.

While Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial beginning of cookout season and summer fun, significant health and safety hazards are lurking out there that can spoil a good time if we’re not safe.

Stay safe when swimming

Memorial weekend typically brings with it the openings of swimming pools and other outdoor water activities. Swimming in an ocean or pool is an excellent outdoor activity for the whole family and it’s important to make sure everyone is equipped with sunscreen to protect themselves from harmful, burning ultraviolet (UV) rays. Practicing sun safety plays an important role in the prevention of skin cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Apply broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 before going outdoors. Reapply sunscreen if it wears off after swimming, sweating or toweling off.

Protect yourself from insect bites

Sunscreen isn’t all you should arm yourself with: Use an insect repellent containing Deet to protect your family from insects while outdoors.  The repellent is safe and, when used as directed, is the best way to protect against mosquito bites, ticks and other biting insects; children and pregnant women should protect themselves also. The bite of insects such as mosquitoes can potentially do more than cause irritating itching; mosquitoes can also transmit diseases such as West Nile and Zika.

Watch out for rip currents

It’s also important to be knowledgeable about rip currents or rip tides at the beach. Rip currents are responsible for many deaths on our nation’s beaches every year and can occur in any body of water that has breaking waves, not just the ocean. Currents at the beach can move to different locations along the coast and can be deadly both to swimmers and those in waist deep water where the rip current occurs. Be sure to check in with lifeguards, who can alert you to areas that have rip current potential.

Here are some more tips to keep you and your family safe and healthy at the beach or pool:

  • Always supervise children when in or around water.
  • Dress in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing if it is hot outside. Stay cool with cool showers or baths. Seek medical care immediately if anyone has symptoms of heat-related illness, including a headache, nausea, dizziness, heavy sweating, and an elevated body temperature.iStock_51595250_XXLARGE cute kids swim class
  • Stay hydrated. Your body loses fluids through sweat. Drink more water than usual — two to four cups of water every hour you are outside. Also, try to avoid alcohol intake to prevent dehydration.
  • Cover up. Clothing that covers your skin helps protect against UV rays. Be sure to apply sunscreen to exposed skin.
  • Be aware of swim and water quality advisories and avoid swimming in those areas.
  • Do not enter the water with cuts, open sores or lesions; naturally-occurring bacteria in the water may cause infection.
  • Do not swim in or allow children to play in swashes of water or near storm water drainage pipes. These shallow pools are caused by runoff from paved surfaces and often contain much higher levels of bacteria and pollutants than the ocean. Permanent water quality advisories are indicated by signs in these areas.
  • Do not swim in the ocean during or immediately following rainfall. Heavy rain can wash bacteria and possibly harmful pollutants into the surf. To reduce the risk of illness, wait at least 12 hours after a heavy rain to resume swimming.
  • Be sure to check your local news and weather forecast for information on heat and beach advisories before planning any type of outdoor activities.

Beware of ticks; they can spread diseases

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging people to be on the lookout for ticks and the diseases they can spread.

May through July is when people get more tick bites and tick-borne diseases than any other time of year in the United States, according to the CDC. The CDC suggests making preventing tick bites a part of your plans when gardening, camping, hiking, or just enjoying the outdoors.

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 is spread by the bite of an infected tick. In the United States, an estimated 300,000 infections occur each year. If you camp, hike, work, or play in wooded or grassy places, you could be bitten by an infected tick. 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.
The CDC reports that people living in or visiting New England, the mid-Atlantic states, and the upper Midwest are at greatest risk. Infected ticks can also be found in neighboring states and in some areas of Northern California, Oregon and Washington.

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.

It’s Spring: Time To Protect Yourself And Your Family From Mosquitoes

Spring is here, following yet another warm winter in South Carolina. As you and your family are heading outside, remember that now is one of the most important times to start thinking about and taking action aimed at protecting your love ones from the pesky insects — even if mosquitoes are the “unofficial state bird!”

Mosquitoes known to carry diseases

South Carolina is home to at least 61 different species of mosquito. Anyone who has lived here for any length of time has encountered the itch-inducing menace on an almost daily basis during summer and fall. Hunters have literally been chased out of the woods, never to return (OK, maybe not literally)! Most of the time, we’re only concerned with the pain or itchiness from a mosquito’s bite – we don’t worry about getting sick. It is true, however, that mosquitoes can transmit disease.

Some mosquitoes in South Carolina have been known to carry West Nile virusEastern equine encephalitis virus, and other viruses or parasites. Although there has been heightened concern recently over Zika virus, no confirmed cases have occurred in South Carolina from South Carolina mosquitoes. All known cases of Zika in South Carolina, to date, have been travel or sexual contact related.

Do your part to help control mosquitoes

Joining forces and doing our part to combat the threat of mosquito-borne viruses and parasites is critical. We must be vigilant about controlling the mosquito population in our own yards and communities, while protecting ourselves from bites. Remove, empty, or fill any objects in your yard or home that might hold water in order to eliminate breeding sites.

In surveying your property for mosquito breeding spots, leave literally no stone unturned. Drain, fill, or get rid of areas that hold water.

  • Clear out weeds, leaves, dirt, and other debris from pipes.clean-gutters-istock_000006269745medium
  • Repair leaky pipes and outdoor faucets.
  • Regularly clean out rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Empty and turn over containers that hold water such as cans, jars, drums, bottles, flower pots, buckets, children’s toys, wheel barrows, old appliances, and plastic sheeting or tarps used to cover objects like grills or swimming pools, etc.
  • 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.
  • Larger troughs for livestock should be cleaned out on a weekly basis.
  • Cover trash containers and garbage cans to keep rainwater from accumulating.
  • Drain or get rid of old tires by recycling them.

Avoid mosquito bites

If you are outside, wear protective clothing. Long pants and long-sleeved shirts are more repellent_iStock_26736429_XXLARGEprotective than you might think. You may also choose to apply a mosquito repellent — either a spray or wipe — per manufacturer instructions to help shield you from bites. 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 screens or seal properly.

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