Mosquito Control Steps Up Activity to Prevent West Nile - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/31/05

Mosquito Control Steps Up Activity to Prevent West Nile

Over the past few years, we've heard a lot about the West Nile virus. And now experts say if you get it, you could take longer than they first thought to recover. According to doctors with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, it can take weeks or months to recover from the virus, not to mention that in severe cases it can also cause partial paralysis, even death.

That has local mosquito control officials concerned, where the wet spring is causing pest problems in the Low Country.

"We're experiencing huge populations of adult mosquitoes and biting midges throughout Beaufort County," said mosquito control director Greg Hunt.

Now that researchers have released new information about the West Nile virus, local officials are doing all they can to prevent it from harming people here.

"It's hard to predict what's going to happen this summer, but needless to say we're prepared to deal with West Nile if it occurs in Beaufort County," said Hunt.

So far, they've increased their surveillance throughout the county and are treating trouble areas. In fact, in a few weeks, they'll be adding a new helicopter for aerial spraying and a new surveillance lab which will be instrumental in detecting West Nile.

"Instead of relying on the DHEC lab in Columbia, we can get results a lot faster," explained Hunt. "In fact, we can get results the same day to get West Nile conformation."

While mosquito control officials continue to do their part, you can help protect you and your family. "If you must go outside, wear long-sleeved clothing, such as shirts and pants, and use and insect repellent continuing 30 percent DEET," advised Hunt.

Also avoid the mosquito peak hours, early morning and early evening, and remove standing water on your property.

Last year, officials found 11 confirmed cases of the West Nile virus in dead birds in Beaufort County, but no human cases. In fact, only 1 out of 20 people bitten by a mosquito with West Nile even shows signs of symptoms and even fewer get serious infections.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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