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Mosquito Control Awareness Week Promotes Fight Against West Nile Virus

COLUMBIA, S.C. – In observance of National Mosquito Control Awareness Week through June 29, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control suggests ways to help reduce the risk from the serious diseases mosquitoes can carry.

“Mosquitoes can become infected with viruses like West Nile when they feed on infected birds,” said Linda J. Bell, M.D. and acting state epidemiologist with DHEC’s Bureau of Disease Control. “They then transmit those viruses to humans and animals when they bite. You can reduce your chances of exposure to these diseases through prevention and control efforts year-round, especially during spring, summer and fall.”

Dr. Bell recommends personal protective measures to avoid mosquito bites, including “the four Ds”:

  • DEET – Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535 according to label instructions. Repellents help keep mosquitoes from biting. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older.
  • Dress – Wear clothing that reduces the risk of skin exposure.
  • Dawn and dusk – Reduce exposure to mosquitoes during the early morning and evening hours when they are most active. It is important to wear repellent at that time.
  • Drain – Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property where mosquitoes can lay their eggs, including flowerpots, old car tires and pet bowls.

Mosquito populations can emerge from very small amounts of water if that water is allowed to stagnate. Removing items from your yard that collect water, cleaning roof gutters and filling in low-lying areas will help prevent mosquitoes from breeding and allow outdoor activities such as gardening, barbecues and outdoor sports to be safer and more enjoyable. Additional tips include stocking ornamental ponds with minnows and ensuring door and window screens are in good repair.

DHEC performs laboratory tests on dead blue jays, house finches, crows and house sparrows to detect mosquito-borne illnesses. Citizens can submit birds through Nov. 30 for testing.

More information on mosquitoes and directions for safely submitting a bird to DHEC for testing can be found athttp://www.scdhec.gov/mosquitoes.