Politics & Government

Mosquito spraying begins after York County resident tests positive for Zika virus

York County officials are reporting the second confirmed travel-related case of Zika virus in York County.
York County officials are reporting the second confirmed travel-related case of Zika virus in York County. TNS

York County crews were to begin spraying Tuesday evening for mosquitoes in the Hickory Grove area, officials said.

The spraying comes one day after York County emergency officials announced the second confirmed travel-related case of the Zika virus. The person who tested positive for the virus lives in the Hickory Grove area of western York County and tested positive a week ago after traveling outside of the country, officials said at a news conference Tuesday in Rock Hill.

It’s not clear where the person contracted the virus, but County Manager Bill Shanahan said the person is no longer contagious and that no mosquitoes in York County have tested positive for the virus.

County officials ordered mosquito spraying in the Tega Cay area in July after a resident there tested positive for the virus. Some sprays intended to kill mosquitoes have also caused harm to honeybee populations in the communities where the insectcides are used.

Mike Channell, deputy director of York County Emergency Management, said Tuesday that spray used in Hickory Grove will be different from what was used in Tega Cay. .

“According to studies of this product, it is the most honeybee-friendly product out there that we can use to treat the mosquito population,” he said.

He said the spray is also pet-friendly and has a drying time of one hour.

“By spraying this during the evening hours while the bees are less active and back in their hives, it’s also the same time the mosquitoes are more active,” Channell said.

Because the area being treated in Hickory Grove is much smaller, the spray will be administered by a two-man crew using a backpack canister rather than a truck, Channell said.

As part of the mosquito control protocol, crews from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control were to set mosquito traps Tuesday evening to conduct surveillance on the mosquito population over the next couple of weeks, Channell said. The results of that surveillance will determine what additional steps, if any, the county needs to take.

According to DHEC, there have been 48 travel-associated Zika cases reported in the state as of Monday.

County employees went door-to-door along with DHEC representatives in the Hickory Grove area, Channell said. They were informing residents of the spraying and educating them on minimizing mosquito breeding grounds.

DHEC lists the common symptoms of the Zika virus as fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, muscle pain and headache.

Teddy Kulmala: 803-329-4082, @teddy_kulmala

How to protect yourself

▪ Drain, fill or eliminate sites with standing water

▪ Empty or throw away containers that have standing water

▪ Keep mosquitoes outside: Use air conditioning or use window/door screens

▪ Avoid exposure to mosquitoes during dawn, dusk, twilight hours or night. Wear long-sleeved shirts and paints.

▪  Wear insect repellent

For more information about the Zika virus, call 1-800-868-0404 or visit www.scdhec.gov.

For details about mosquito control efforts, please contact York County Emergency Management at 803-326-2300.