West Nile Virus reported in Columbia, mosquito control expert weighs in

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Published: Jul. 31, 2022 at 7:51 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2022 at 11:18 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Over the last two days the City of Columbia has been spraying for mosquitos after DHEC announced a case of West Nile Virus in Columbia.

RELATED STORY | City of Columbia: West Nile Virus found in dead bird, mosquito spraying scheduled

According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, mosquitoes become infected with the virus when they feed on infected birds that carry the virus in their blood.

Daniel Ellzey of Mosquito Free Yards has been working in the mosquito control business for about ten years. He says the insects can end up in a lot of places around yards.

“It doesn’t take much. You know, you could have a clogged gutter and you don’t even realize it,” Ellzey said.

Ellzey says in the hotter summer months mosquitos have rapid breeding cycles, and there are steps to stop that process.

“Mainly, making sure you don’t have any standing water, because the only time a mosquito bites you is when a female is about to lay her eggs, and needs a blood meal right before she lays her eggs. If you have standing water in your yard, that’s going to attract the females, which are the ones that bite,” Ellzey said.

South Carolina DHEC says that after one to weeks, infected mosquitos can transmit West Nile Virus to people and animals.

Since March, the state agency has been monitoring birds and their activities and have asked the community to help.

People may submit dead, non-injured birds to DHEC through November. The birds will be tested for West Nile virus.

DHEC says this effort alerts the agency on virus activity in certain areas of the state.

Crows, blue jays, house finches, house sparrows, and other songbirds are used for testing.

Although the city of Columbia has been working over the weekend by spraying the area, Daniel Ellzey says the best way to stay protected is by contacting mosquito-control experts.

“I mean, that’s just coming out of those trucks. It’s not going to be nearly as good if you have a professional come and use a backpack sprayer,” he said.

If interested in submitting a bird for DHEC to monitor for West Nile Virus, visit the website with instructions on how to do so, here.

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