DHEC issues early precautions for Zika virus

DHEC issues early precautions for Zika virus

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - With record-high winter temperatures, the Department of Health and Environmental Control is warning you to take precautions to fight off the bugs.

“With temperatures rising in South Carolina, action on the home front is also needed to help fight mosquitoes,” a DHEC release read Wednesday morning.
We’re seeing the number of bugs rise here in the Lowcountry, with bug bites showing up almost every time you walk outside.

"You can't spend five minutes out there now — you'll look down at your arm and the whole thing will be bugs," Charleston fisherman Michael Mckown said.

Some people are saying it feels less like winter and more like summer.

"It's only the first of March and it seems like we're already in August when it comes to the bugs in Charleston," Charleston resident Rashaun Richardson said.

It’s hard to say what to expect for cases of mosquito-borne diseases, but the continued warm weather could mean earlier mosquito populations, which in turn increases the chance for mosquito-borne illnesses,” DHEC said. 

It's not just the diseases you have to look out for. Farmers are having to keep an eye on the plants due to the bugs showing up much earlier than normal.

"So far this winter we didn't really have too much of a winter so we're seeing a lot of mosquitoes and gnats, and in our crops we're seeing some insect pests a lot earlier than we would see then," Clemson Extension area Horticulture Agent Zack Snipes said.

He said they normally don't see the bugs until the end of March or the first of April.

"This is the earliest we've seen a lot of insects and a lot of the growers I've talked to who have been farming 50, 60 years this is the warmest winter they've ever seen," Snipes said.

He also said they've seen spider mites on the strawberry crops about two months earlier than usual.

But the warmer temperatures could have the local strawberry crops ready to harvest sooner.

As the summer months get closer, DHEC has a full list of things you can do to fight off mosquitoes. Eliminating breeding grounds is the number one way to reduce the mosquito populations.

You can see a full list of other precautions you can take here.

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