Not only did Tropical Storm Irma flood Beaufort County with water earlier this month, it also swamped the area with mosquitoes.
Similar to Hurricane Matthew, Irma created a perfect haven for mosquitoes, and residents are picking up on it.
On Friday alone, 48 requests were made. Beaufort County Mosquito Control director Gregg Hunt said that’s more calls than his department typically sees in a full week during September and October — the two highest months for mosquito activity in the Lowcountry.
“(Requests) are still coming in as we speak,” Hunt said. “The phone is continuously ringing.”
Still, compared to Hurricane Matthew, Hunt said Irma is no match.
“For comparison, Matthew still definitely holds the record for the largest number of mosquito requests,” Hunt said.
In 2016, Beaufort County Mosquito Control received more than 1,800 mosquito complaints — breaking records for most complaints received by the department in a day, a week, a month and a year. More than 1,000 of those complaints were made in the six weeks following the storm.
Hunt said he encourages residents and visitors to call the Mosquito Control department and report high mosquito activity or use the Beaufort County Mosquito Control app to make a request.
Mosquitoes are a concern for local residents because in addition to being a nuisance, the insect is a carrier of the West Nile virus.
So far this year, 11 human cases of West Nile have been confirmed in South Carolina. One individual who was infected with the virus in Anderson County died last month, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
On Hilton Head Island, two human cases have been confirmed this year, as well as nine samples of mosquitoes and a bird.
No humans or animals have tested positive for the virus in other areas of the county.
“The potential is still there for West Nile,” Hunt said. “We still have the same (type of) mosquito (here) ... we still have standing water and we still have containers full of water.”
To lower the risk of catching West Nile, Hunt said that residents and visitors should wear insect repellents if they’re working or playing outside, make sure all windows and doors have screens and empty containers that are holding standing water.
Beaufort County Mosquito Control sent spray trucks and an aircraft out to treat the county this week, and it will continue to do so until the requests for service decrease to a normal level, Hunt said.