HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - South Carolina has its first confirmed case of the Zika virus, which was travel related.
While mosquitoes in the area aren't believed to be carrying the disease, Horry County is working to keep the mosquito population down.
Horry County officials said mosquito control operations are normal, and there is no immediate Zika threat in the county. However, county officials are stressing that homeowners can help in the fight to keep the virus away.
"Tip and toss is a good phrase that we are using right now," said James Brock, Horry County's mosquito control supervisor. "Go outside, tip the water out of buckets, tip your boats back (and) make sure that your boats aren't holding water, tip your flower pots and the trays up under your flower pot."
Brock said mosquito control will spray and treat during its normal schedule, if weather permits.
His office gets between 40 to 50 complaint calls a month for mosquitoes. As the summer months approach, Brock said his staff is staying busy with prevention treatment before the mosquito problem worsens.
"We basically didn't have a cold enough winter to kill them off," he said.
The county will continue to spray parks and neighborhoods during the dawn and dusk hours, incorporate plane treatments and put larvae tablets in catch basins in residential areas.
However, those efforts will be in vain if homeowners don't do their part, Brock stressed. He encouraged neighborhoods to have a community clean-up day and pick up all trash, bottles, bags and tires.
"That's the best way to control the mosquitoes right now, (with) source reduction," he said.
According to Tom Garigen, director of Horry County Stormwater, the department will start issuing citations to properties deemed a public health nuisance under a county ordinance.
That specific ordinance - the Garbage, Trash and Refuse Ordinance Section - states, in part, that, "No person shall permit their property to serve as a breeding place for mosquitoes, as a refuge for rats and snakes, as a collecting place for trash and litter or a fire hazard."
Garigen said those property owners that do not voluntarily cooperate when asked to clean up their property could be issued a citation with a fine as high as $500.
"You'll never eradicate them; you'll only control them," Brock said. "The best way to control is by getting their breeding site."