Grand Strand on alert as mosquito-borne virus hits parts of country

Mosquito population in Horry County

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - A dangerous and sometimes deadly mosquito-borne virus has parts of the county on high alert.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) infected a number of people in the northeast, claiming five lives.

No human cases of the virus have been reported in South Carolina, as weekly mosquito spraying continues throughout the county.

Dr. William Epperson with Tidelands Health said while contracting the virus is rare, it’s important for people to remain vigilant.

“Those who work in the air conditioning or inside, we see much less incidence of encephalitis from these infections versus someone who works outside and is being constantly bitten by mosquitoes,” said Epperson.

Mosquitoes activity will be much higher near swampy areas where mosquitoes breed.

Symptoms of EEE include chills, fever and headaches, which tend to set in several days after being bitten.

“If you have that element ongoing with a severe headache or feeling badly I think you should seek medical attention sooner rather than later,” said Epperson.

Horry County Mosquito Control Supervisor James Brock said aerial spraying is scheduled for Thursday, Friday and over the next several days in parts of Horry County near waterways and rivers.

Brock said the EEE virus usually affects horses rather than people and hasn’t received any reports of the virus in our area in recent years.

The city of Myrtle Beach will also continue their weekly spraying for the next serval weeks.

“It is tailored towards the mosquitoes and is essentially a mosquitocide so that’s what it’s doing,” said Myrtle Beach spokesperson Mark Kruea.

Companies like K.B. Sun Space recommend the investment of screened-in porches and windows to help keep mosquitoes from entering your home.

“This can make 100% difference if you want to use your backyard because there’s parts of the year where you can’t go outside for more than five minutes,” said John Dewitt.

With several inches of rainfall left behind from Hurricane Dorian, Kruea said residents can do their part by monitoring standing water throughout their property.

“Make sure you don’t have standing water because that’s where the mosquitoes will lay their larva and in a few weeks you may have a mosquito problem,” said Kruea.

About two out of three people who develop the EEE disease will survive, but health experts don’t exactly know what’s causing the uptick.

“Think about the mosquitos everywhere, not just in our area and there are other diseases in other parts of the world,” said Dr. Epperson.

If you’re concerned about recent mosquito-borne illness, Horry County Mosquito Control does have a hotline, 843-381-8000 or you can submit an online service request.

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