Tag Archives: West Nile

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.

DHEC in the News: Fireworks safety, mosquitoes

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

The reality of fireworks on the Fourth

You’ve heard the message for years. And it’s been ignored for years: Fireworks are dangerous and should only be used in supervised situations.

An estimated 7,600 of the total 11,000 fireworks-related injuries from two summers ago were treated in hospital emergency departments during the period between June 18 and July 18, 2016, according to a report by the Consumer Products Safety Commission and its National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.

This July 4th many Americans and South Carolinians will continue the long tradition of lighting up the night with fireworks. While the displays are visually compelling, people should put safety first.

Columbia Fire Dept. offers 4th of July fireworks safety tips

COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) – The Columbia Fire Department wants you to have a safe and fun 4th of July, but they’re also stressing the importance of staying safe.

“Fireworks are exciting to see this time of year, but they are dangerous when misused not only for the operator but also for bystanders and nearby structures,” said Bengie Leverett, Public Fire Education Officer at Columbia-Richland Fire Rescue. “Everyone is urged to use extreme precaution when using the devices.”

Lowcountry mosquitoes deadlier than sharks? 4 tips you need to know about bug spray

Mosquitoes — along with their fiendish neighbors no-see-ums — can make being outdoors in the Lowcountry unpleasant.

That’s not to mention the diseases mosquitoes can transmit via their bites, such as West Nile and Eastern equine encephalitis viruses, both of which were recorded in South Carolina in 2017, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

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.

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.

DHEC in the News: Tracking West Nile, HIV rates, flu

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

DHEC: Submitting dead birds can help track West Nile virus in SC

COLUMBIA, SC (FOX Carolina) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is asking residents to send dead birds to their local DHEC offices to help officials track the West Nile virus.

DHEC is asking people to send crows, blue jays, house finches, and house sparrows they find dead as part of the dead bird surveillance program.

General Interest

CDC reports HIV rates are highest in the South

HUNTSVILLE Ala. — HIV rates are declining in the United States due to prevention efforts and awareness, except for in the Deep South. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say southern cities now have the highest rates of new infections nationwide.

A Second Wave of Flu May Be On the Way, CDC Warns

The bulk of this year’s deadly flu season was dominated by the H3N2 virus, an influenza A strain that is more severe and less receptive to vaccines than other types of the disease. As the season winds down, however, influenza B has overtaken influenza A, setting the scene for a possible second wave of flu, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) data.