Fighting Zika in the Lowcountry

VIDEO: Fighting Zika in the Lowcountry

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston County is touting new traps to prevent the spread of Zika virus.

"We want to nip these things in the bud before they start flying around and biting people," Ed Harne, a taxonomist with Charleston County Mosquito Control, said. "We want to stop the virus cycle at the mosquito level."

The S.C. dept. of health confirmed its 7th case of travel-related Zika virus this week. 30 cases are still pending testing as of Thursday.

The Centers for Disease Control reports 1,132 travel-related cases across the country; 14 cases were sexually transmitted.
 
Local mosquito experts predict the number of travel-related cases will rise with summer heat and showers.

According to Charleston County, mosquito experts are notified by DHEC if a person tests positive so they can survey and trap Aedeus aegypti mosquitoes near the infected person's home to prevent any potential spread.

DHEC provided the county with two traps designed specifically for the Aedeus mosquito, known to transmit Zika.

"We want to eliminate any mosquito breeding whether it's adult mosquitoes or aquatic mosquitoes right then and there," Harne said. "That will help prevent any sequential transmission if the victim got bitten while at their residence after bringing the disease back."
 
Both Berkeley County and Charleston County are encouraging locals to empty water-filled containers around their homes, a habitat of the Aedeus
aegypti. Experts said spraying doesn't entirely eliminate the breed.

"Those species will hide in their container or behind leaves or in the grass," Andrew Starland with Berkeley County mosquito abatement said. "Definitely look for any buckets or flower pots. You may think that your yard is clean and it may be but it's very easy to miss something as small as a soda bottle cap that can breed them. It won't breed a lot, but it can escalate into a bigger problem."
 
Berkeley County is currently offering residents free inspections for those concerned with mosquito populations. Charleston County will also arrange site visits.

Dorchester, Charleston and Berkeley counties all have sprays scheduled for this week.
 
In addition, the C.D.C awarded S.C. funding last week to protect against Zika infection. As a result, DHEC has established a response plan that includes "communication, outreach and education components," along with government "partnerships aimed at protecting citizens and preventing the spread of Zika virus".
 
According to DHEC, the new funding will "allow five internal DHEC divisions (Office of Public Health Preparedness, Maternal and Child Health, Public Health Outreach, Vector Control and Disease Control) to bolster their current collaboration in Zika preparedness and response by enhancing and implementing the following efforts already in place:"
 
*          A state communications and response plan
*          Family planning and sexual transmission prevention educational materials for targeted populations
*          Communication and educational strategies for healthcare providers, local government, general public and targeted populations
*          Vector control preparedness and response plan
 
Currently, there are no local transmission mosquito-borne cases in the U.S. The White House held a special press call Thursday, urging Congress
approval of $1.9 billion in emergency funding before the legislature takes its summer recess.

"Funding is urgently needed to ensure we continue to make progress on vaccine development, diagnostics, vector control and other critical needs," according to a release.

Copyright 2016 WCSC. All rights reserved.