Insects, especially mosquitoes, can carry a variety of diseases. Over the past few weeks, a virus similar to yellow fever, dengue, and West Nile has been highlighted because of an outbreak in Brazil.
Fort Jackson officials haven't been lax in preparing for the virus -- they have been at the forefront of keeping the virus off post.

The Aedes genus of mosquito is the only species to carry the virus, said Shelly Keller, the Installation Pest Management Coordinator at the Directorate of Public Works. Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are found on Fort Jackson.

Keller recommends Soldiers, civilians and Family members on Fort Jackson remove or empty barrels, pools, bird baths, bottles, old tires from around buildings to prevent mosquitoes.

"The Aedes mosquitoes are also known as artificial container mosquitoes and breed almost exclusively in articles we discard," she said. "They can breed in standing water and for water that can't be eliminated, use mosquito dunks that are available almost everywhere."

DPW has been proactive in the fight against insect-borne diseases.

Last October during the floods, DPW employees were out eliminating sources of standing water and placing larvacide into water that couldn't been removed, Keller said.

If a threshold number of mosquitoes are caught public health officials may direct areas to be fogged.

"Fogging is only done in extreme measures," Keller said, "it's not good for people, animals or the environment, minimally effective and costly. Additionally, the mosquitos that spread Zika are daytime biters and fogging wouldn't reach them. The main focus is on preventing larvae from becoming biting adults."

The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes is to avoid being bitten. Keller recommends avoiding or limiting daytime activities when possible even though it might not be easy.

"Wear insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin when you must go outdoors. It is imperative to reapply according to label directions. Soldiers should wear permethrin treated uniforms and maintain them according to instructions. Wear long sleeves and trousers. Ensure you have screens on windows and keep doors shut."

Fort Jackson community members with Zika-like symptoms (rashes, red eyes, fever, joint pain, headache, and vomiting) should contact their physician.

"Most cases of the virus are mild and cause no long term harm," she said. "Your doctor can order a blood test to look for Zika or similar viruses. Be sure to mention your travel history to the doctor. Pregnant women should follow mosquito avoidance procedures. Using approved insect repellents is safe when used as directed."

Fort Jackson's actions are part of a larger Department of Defense initiative to counter the virus.
"This is an area where the DOD has done some research in the past," said Peter Cook, Pentagon press secretary, "and I think some of that expertise will be brought to this effort. We'll be supporting (the Department of Health and Human Services) in whatever way we can."