EASLEY — A human case of West Nile Virus has been confirmed in Pickens County, Denise Kwiatek of Pickens County Emergency Management said on Friday.
Kwiatek said County and City of Easley officials received word from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) on Friday morning.
“Per the CDC, the West Nile Virus is commonly spread to a person from an infected bird and the bird is bitten by the mosquito and therefore that’s how the bird becomes infected,” she said at a press conference held at 2 p.m. in front of Easley’s City Hall.
The virus is not spread from person to person, Kwiatek said.
Easley Fire Chief Butch Womack said plans are already underway to spray the area — specifically Easley — for mosquitoes likely beginning Saturday, Sept. 8.
“We want to make sure we get out to all people in the community that if they have any kind of respiratory problems, they can take cover — go somewhere else for the time being,” Womack said. “It will be the entire City of Easley and the surrounding area.”
Womack said the spray would be delivered via drones and efforts are being made to warn local beekeepers to evacuate or properly safeguard their hives.
For the past several years, Easley has used mosquito larvae tablets to combat the pests and in the past, they have proved effective, he said.
Womack stated after they learned of the human case of West Nile, they decided to “step up their game.”
It is not clear how many sprayings will be conducted but Womack said with the aerial method (rather than the fogger) the sprayings had to be several weeks apart.
“That’s he kind of thing we’ll be deciding on with the (pesticide) company about whether or not a follow-up would be necessary,” he said.
While not typically dangerous to humans, Womack said the spray could potentially be problematic for people with existing respiratory ailments.
West Nile Virus presents with flu like symptoms such as body aches and fever, Womack said. Anyone who is presenting these type of symptoms should be seen by their doctor, he said.
Additionally, residents are asked to explore their yards/property and dump out any standing water. If you have a pond or other body of water too large to “dump,” the City of Easley does have the larvae tablets available.
Any dead birds found are asked to be reported to the County for testing.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.