The County is ramping up efforts to mitigate the spread of mosquito-borne West Nile virus, after six human cases were reported locally.
On Monday, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) said it had detected a significant increase in the virus in Richland County and was alerting residents because of multiple confirmed cases in birds, mosquitoes and humans. DHEC also reported that one person from the Midlands region has died from West Nile, the first such occurrence in South Carolina this year.
Richland County Vector Control has sprayed areas for mosquito populations where positive cases were found.
“We will continue to respond appropriately in the affected areas until the threat is eliminated,” said Olin Towery, Vector Control manager. “This includes, but is not limited to, conducting larval and adult surveillance, treating or eliminating standing water, truck-mounted spraying, and knocking on doors to hand out educational materials to the public.”
Mosquitoes transmit West Nile from infected birds, causing a viral infection characterized by fever, headache, drowsiness, nausea and a rash. In rare cases, infected people develop symptoms that can be fatal. Vector Control crews regularly spray, treat and conduct surveillance to prevent the spread of West Nile virus.
To help reduce mosquitoes, Vector Control urges residents to inspect their property for potential breeding sites and take the following preventive measures:
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon or eucalyptus, according to label instructions
- Clear drainage ditches of debris and weeds
- Pack tree holes with sand
- Clean clogged roof gutters
- Change the water in pet dishes, birdbaths and containers used to root plants at least weekly
- Maintain swimming pools properly
- Keep boats overturned, drained or covered, and be sure covers do not collect water
- Stock ornamental ponds (water gardens) with top-feeding minnows
- Wear long sleeves and long pants if you are outside at peak times, especially dusk and dawn
- Ensure rain barrels have screens to prevent mosquitoes from accessing the collected water. Do not allow water to linger in rain barrels.
Richland County residents with questions or problems with mosquitoes can reach Vector Control at 803-929-6000. Beekeepers and people allergic to the products resmethrin, prallethrin, sumithrin and permethrin should also call this number.
Vector Control only controls for mosquitoes in areas of Richland County outside the Columbia city limits. The City of Columbia and Lexington County have their own mosquito control services.
Residents inside the Columbia city limits should call 803-545-3430. Lexington County residents who live inside the town limits of Batesburg-Leesville should call the Town Hall at 803-532-4601. All other Lexington County residents should call 803-785-8440.