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DHEC issues Zika warning for spring

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In a press release issued Wednesday, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control stated those living in South Carolina should take precautions now to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika.

Precautions, DHEC reports, should include prevention at home and preparation for traveling.

"Many South Carolinians are preparing for trips abroad, whether it be for spring break, mission trips or just vacations. Many of those destinations are warmer locations where mosquito populations are known to transmit Zika and other diseases. DHEC encourages all those travelers to do their part to prevent mosquito bites," the release states.

"Zika is actively spreading in several areas of the world, including countries and territories in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, the Pacific Islands and Cape Verde," said state epidemiologist Linda Bell.

DHEC advises individuals planning to travel should consult a travel clinic or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website to see if they are traveling to an area with active Zika transmission. The CDC has a complete list of countries and locations with active transmission here: https://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html.

There have been 61 travel-related cases of Zika virus reported in South Carolina since April 2016. However, there have been no cases caused by mosquitoes in the state. "To help ensure this remains the case, it is very important for travelers to take these necessary precautions," continued Dr. Bell.

DHEC reports rising temperatures in South Carolina will contribute to mosquito breeding ground growth and an increase in local mosquito populations. While many people are concerned about the threat of Zika, Dr. Bell said it should not be the only concern.

"Mosquitoes have the ability to spread illnesses other than Zika, such as West Nile virus, chikungunya, dengue and eastern equine encephalitis," Dr. Bell said.

For more information on steps that individuals can take to prevent mosquito bites and eliminate mosquito breeding grounds around their homes, visit www.scdhec.gov/mosquitoes.

For more information on the Zika virus, visit www.scdhec.gov/zika.


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