Tag Archives: Zika

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.

Beware: Mosquitoes are still active

Although the weather is turning cooler, don’t be fooled. The pesky mosquito is still with us and will be until temperatures are consistently cold enough to drive the insect away.

Cold snaps can help reduce the likelihood of excessive mosquito breeding. That’s because mosquitoes are cold-blooded and do not thrive in cooler temperatures. Mosquitoes shut down for the winter.

But until that happens, it’s important to take steps to reduce mosquito populations and reduce your family’s exposure to these insects, which can spread diseases such as West Nile, Zika and others.

Begin by reducing mosquito breeding habitats.

It only takes as few as five days for water in containers as small as a bottle cap to become active breeding sites for mosquitoes.

Routinely empty any containers on your property that are holding water:

  • Pool covers
  • Flower pots
  • Boat covers
  • Tires
  • Pet bowls
  • Toys
  • Tarps
  • Remove debris from gutters.
  • Trim back thick shrubbery and overgrown grass on your property.
  • Fix leaky outdoor faucets.

Protect you and your family from mosquitoes and possible exposure to mosquito-borne illnesses.

  • Repair damaged or broken doors and screens.
  • Wear light-colored clothes with long sleeves and long pants.
  • Close garage doors at night.
  • Wear insect repellent. The Environmental Protection Agency has a web-based tool to help you find the proper insect repellent for your time spent outdoors.

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

Rid Your Property Of Standing Water To Combat Mosquitoes

Standing water caused by rain and flooding can be prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which can spread harmful diseases such as West Nile, Zika and more.

Be sure to inspect areas around your homes and businesses and take to reduce mosquito populations and lessen the chance of you or others being exposed to these pesky, and potentially harmful, insects.

Below are some steps you can take to rid areas of mosquito breeding grounds.

Eliminate places where mosquitoes breed

One of the most important steps in controlling mosquitoes 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.

World Mosquito Day Isn’t A Day Off For The Pesky Insect

Although World Mosquito Day is just around the corner, don’t expect the pesky insects to take a holiday. They’ll be as active as ever, which means we must continue to be vigilant in avoiding bites.

World Mosquito Day, which is August 20, was established in 1897, when the link between mosquitoes and malaria transmission was discovered by Sir Ronald Ross. The intent was to raise awareness about malaria and how it can be prevented, as well as raise money to help find a cure.

These days, the observance provides the perfect opportunity to remind people about the host of diseases mosquitoes can spread, to include West Nile and Zika. The most common diseases that could potentially be carried by mosquitoes in South Carolina, home to at least 61 different species, include: West NileEastern Equine EncephalitisLa Crosse encephalitis, Saint Louis encephalitis virus, and dog/cat heartworm.

Although August 20 is the mosquito’s day, so to speak, DHEC urges residents to not feed or house the insects. Take precautions to avoid mosquito bites and rid your home and yard of areas where they breed. Follow the following guidance:

Reduce the numbers of adult mosquitoes around your home.

  • Drain, fill or eliminate sites that have standing water.
  • Empty or throw away containers — from bottles and jars to tires and kiddie pools — that have standing water.

Keep mosquitoes outside: Use air conditioning or make sure that you repair and use window/door screens.

Avoid Mosquitoes: Most mosquito species bite during dawn, dusk, twilight hours and night. Some species bite during the day, especially in wooded or other shaded areas. Avoid exposure during these times and in these areas.

Wear insect repellent: When used as directed, insect repellent is the BEST way to protect yourself from mosquito bites—even children and pregnant women should protect themselves. Choose a repellent that contain 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.
  • More repellent information

Cover up: When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.

So, apply the repellent, empty or get rid of containers in your yard holding water and have a Happy World Mosquito Day.

Click here to learn more about protecting yourself and your home from mosquitoes.

Visit the DHEC website to learn more about mosquitoes and the diseases they can spread.