Mosquito spraying to fight Zika virus in the Lowcountry

Mosquito spraying to fight Zika virus in the Lowcountry

BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) - Beaufort County officials are already taking precautions to minimize the risks of the mosquito borne virus in the Lowcountry.

Pilots and technicians hit the skies and the streets Monday spraying for mosquitos.

Officials purchased extra equipment that would help them study mosquitos who may carry the virus, and they already have a response plan in place in case Zika makes its way into the Lowcountry.

"Whatever mosquitos that may be collected that could potentially be associated with the Zika virus will be sent to DHEC in Columbia for identification and further tests," said Beaufort County Mosquito Control Director Gregg Hunt.

Technicians began spraying insecticides countywide Monday, focusing on areas where mosquitoes tend to breed.

"There are 57 different types of mosquito species in Beaufort County and there's only one currently that potentially associated with Zika virus and it occurs in low numbers," said Hunt.

But the Lowcountry isn't in the clear yet. Experts say the risk of Zika is still pretty high.

"It appears the mosquito is migrating northward as the climate warms. The thought process is Florida, Georgia, certainly South Carolina," said Dr. Kent Stock, Beaufort Memorial Infectious Disease Physician.

Especially because Beaufort County is the perfect environment for mosquitos.

"Doing things like mosquito prevention efforts, in terms of trying to eradicate mosquito reservoirs that are all too common to the Lowcountry because of the humid moist environment," said Dr. Stock.

Officials are urging folks to focus on prevention, wearing bug spray containing deet, staying indoors at dusk and dawn and getting rid of standing water near your home.

Hunt says this could minimize your risk of getting bitten.

"The mosquitos associated with West Nile virus and Zika virus prefer to breed in containers holding water. It's just an easy step. Just empty the water," said Hunt. "We do have a Zika virus response plan already in place for Beaufort County. We have certain steps that will be activated depending on when and where the Zika virus may occur in Beaufort County."

Officials say they will be spraying for mosquitos through the rest of the summer.

If you notice a lot of mosquitos near your home, just contact mosquito control. They can assess your mosquito problem and spray for the pests free of charge.

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