ANDERSON — With concerns surrounding the Zika virus increasing, the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service is doing what it can to inform the public.

A regional discussion forum was held Tuesday to discuss how the Zika virus is transmitted, medical issues related to the virus, control strategies and regulatory concerns, as well as protecting pets, pollinators and people. The forum was held during a luncheon hosted by Anderson County administrators and emergency personnel.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that causes severe birth defects in developing fetuses — including brain damage, hearing and vision loss, and impaired growth — if the mother is infected during pregnancy.

Tim Drake of the Clemson Department of Pesticide Regulation said his department is doing everything it can to insure pesticides used to control Zika-carrying mosquitoes are properly applied.

Tim Drake of the Clemson Department of Pesticide Regulation speaks about how his department is doing everything it can to insure pesticides used to control Zika-carrying mosquitoes are properly applied.
Image Credit: Denise Attaway / Clemson University

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 31 cases of the disease were reported in South Carolina as of Aug. 31. All of these cases were travel-related, meaning the infected persons became infected while traveling outside of South Carolina. The Zika virus disease is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquitoes. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting up to a week. Many people do not have symptoms or will have only mild symptoms. Tim Drake of the Clemson Department of Pesticide Regulation said his department is doing everything it can to insure pesticides used to control Zika-carrying mosquitoes are properly applied.

“It is important everyone communicates,” Drake said. “We need to work together to combat this disease.”

Drake said communication between all parties involved when mosquito spraying occurs is important. One way to enhance communication between beekeepers, DPR, DHEC, mosquito control officials and pesticide applicators is through the online resource created by Regulatory Services for beekeepers and pesticide applicators, Clemson’s Voluntary Beehive Mapping Program. Beekeepers who register with the program will receive email notifications when pesticide applicators are about to spray within three miles of bee yards.

Jennifer Tsuruda, a Clemson apiculture specialist, urged beekeepers also to register for pesticide notifications from their local mosquito control offices.

Jennifer Tsuruda, Clemson Extension apiculturist, talks about mosquito larva control while protecting pollinators during Upstate Regional Zika Virus Summit in Anderson.

Jennifer Tsuruda, Clemson Extension apiculture specialist, talks about mosquito larva control while protecting pollinators during Upstate Regional Zika Virus Summit in Anderson.
Image Credit: Denise Attaway / Clemson University

“Members of local bee associations or clubs can let their local mosquito control offices know of any social media they may have so that the offices can post planned treatments and notifications,” Tsuruda said. “Communication is important.”

Other speakers included Chris Evans, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) public health entomologist, who talked about mosquito vectors of Zika virus and their control. Evans noted DHEC has information about how to contact Mosquito Control Programs in South Carolina, as well as other Zika virus information on its website. Contact information also is available on local government websites.

Zika virus information also can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

J. Wallace Davies of AnMed Health discussed various medical issues related to the Zika Virus, including microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome.

While much research has been made in to humans contracting the Zika virus, little research has been done related to pets or other animals being infected with the Zika virus. Danielle Nixon, veterinarian and owner of Crescent Animal Hospital in Iva, said there have been no reports of pets or other animals being infected with the virus, nor have there been any reports of humans contracting the virus from their pets or other animals.

“But more research is needed in this area,” said Nixon, adding the CDC has information about Zika and Animals on its website.

General beekeeping information, as well as links to news and agencies that deal with honeybees can be found on the Clemson beekeeping website.

The forum was arranged by Marty Watt, a Clemson Extension senior agent in Anderson. Watt said the forum was held in response to all of the publicity generated by the Zika virus and the numerous requests about how to control mosquitoes. Forum attendees were selected from various agencies.

“This audience was chosen because we needed to make the largest impact we could to get the correct information out there to inform people that, together, we can control this potential bad situation,” Watt said.

The forum was recorded and, once the final version is ready, Digital Versatile Discs (DVDs) will be available for people to use to share the information in other venues. Contact the Anderson County Cooperative Extension Office for information about the DVDs.

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