It’s no secret that mosquitoes are host to an array of viruses such as dengue, chikungunya, and Zika – and are potentially harmful to the young, elderly, sick and pregnant. But how do you adequately protect yourself from mosquito bites in the Lowcountry? In South Carolina, mosquito season runs regularly from about April until October, or as long as humidity lingers. The often damp, hot weather and abundance of still water makes Charleston – and its surrounding suburbs – not just a vacation destination for “snowbirds.” Today, with the questions, concerns, and proximity of the Zika virus to the Palmetto State, it’s important to review your methods of pest control and ensure that proper measures are taken to reduce the chances of virus transmission. Here are a few key tips:
- For adults and children over the age of 2 months, use an EPA recommended brand of insect repellant, preferably containing DEET. If using in combination with sunscreen, apply your SPF first, and spray your repellant on all visible skin surfaces last – avoiding spraying under your clothing. Take care not to spray the repellant in the eyes, nose and mouth, particularly in young children. To protect your face, spray the repellant on your hands and apply to the neck, cheeks, and forehead.
- When the evenings become cooler, wear socks, long sleeved shirts and pants to reduce skin exposure. Mosquitos are most active between dusk and dawn.
- Keep cool in air conditioned spaces or in front of fans, which discourages mosquitoes from dwelling nearby and hinders their mobility. If you do not have air conditioning in your home, hang a mosquito net over your bed or your kids’ beds during warmer months.
- Take a moment to scan your yard for areas where stagnant water can collect. Roof gutters, fire pits, tires, plant pots, toys and trash can all accumulate rain water and become a breeding ground for mosquitos. Empty these water-collecting sources weekly, and keep your lawn trim.
- If being outdoors is a necessity for work, or if you plan to be outside for a lengthy amount of time, consider treating your clothes or outdoor gear with Permethrin.
Avoiding these insects doesn’t need to hinder your plans as long as you take basic precautionary measures to protect yourself. Talk to your primary health care physician if you have additional concerns regarding your health in relation to mosquitoes, Zika, or other transmissible viruses.
Mayo Clinic. Mosquito Bites Prevention. Accessed 9/7/16
Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic provides medical care to eligible patients, just like any family practitioner or internist – but it is free. We serve uninsured adults living at or below 200 % of the Federal poverty level who live or work on Johns, Wadmalaw or James Islands. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.