What does Zika Virus mean for Georgia, South Carolina?

What does Zika Virus mean for Georgia, South Carolina?

BEAUFORT, SC (WTOC) - With the threat of Zika Virus across the country, some are wondering if it's safe to play outside during the summer months, with all the mosquitoes out and about.

Each mosquito season is different, and depends on the amount of rainfall, temperature, and high tides. Gregg Hunt, with Beaufort County Mosquito Control, says they spray to help keep them away. There are 57 different types of mosquitoes in this particular part of the Lowcountry.

"Only two are capable of transmitting the Zika Virus, one of which has not been seen in Beaufort County since 1992, so the other one, we're closely monitoring as we're speaking, and we bought special traps to collect that specific species, and they've been operational for the last three weeks," he said.

The largest threat is to pregnant women, but Hunt says as long as you follow the recommended precautions, you should be fine. He says to use some sort of insect repellent, preferably with Deet, wear long sleeves and pants if needed, and also avoid peak mosquito hours, such as sunrise and sunset.

We spent some time at a summer camp on Wednesday, where camp leaders told us it's all about keeping the youngsters safe, but also about learning important lessons. Most of those lessons take place outside.

From birds, to rockets, geysers, and drones, the kids at the Lowcountry Montessori E=MC2 summer camp are learning all about science, technology, engineering, and math. This week's theme is "things that fly." And yes, that does include insects like mosquitoes.

"There's no way to keep our kids in a bubble. We must provide them with the necessary items, so when they do come outside, it's safe.

Director Michael Hudson says they do a lot of activities outside, but they make sure the kids are sprayed with some type of bug spray to prevent them from being bitten by bugs.

"Even if it's hot out like this, we make sure that everything is covered, so that if there are mosquitoes out, they aren't biting us," said Hudson, Lowcountry Montessori Summer Camp.

That's exactly what Gregg Hunt with the Beaufort County Mosquito Control recommends - from bug spray to protective clothing and avoiding peak mosquito hours, like sunrise and sunset.

"Use common sense when you go outside, whether you're working or playing, and follow some of the recommendations that I mentioned earlier. The most important part of our control program is if the residents and visitors can empty standing water on their property," Hunt said.

What about all the standing water left over from the past two tropical storms? Hunt says you can't predict mother nature, but they're closely monitoring the situation.

So far, only one Zika Virus case has been diagnosed in South Carolina, and 17 in Georgia.

"They spray off those mosquitoes that are around, and make sure that as we participate in activities outside, that it's not harmful for us; that we're in a safe environment, because we want to be outside to play on this beautiful, sunny day, but it has to be safe or everybody."

Thursday, the group will actually talk with pilots who spray for mosquitoes in Beaufort County, to really understand how to keep those bugs away.

For a full list of tips to help avoid mosquitoes, click here.

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