Columbia, SC (WLTX) - State health officials say a dead bird in Richland County tested positive for the West Nile Virus.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control said Tuesday that they were notified a day earlier that the virus-positive bird was found in downtown Columbia.

DHEC says they'll start spraying in a two-mile radius from where the bird was found. The spraying will take place on Monday and Wednesday from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. The agency says there will be minimum exposure to people.

DHEC says it's not uncommon for birds to have the virus. So far, there have been no reported cases of West Nile in humans this year in South Carolina.

"Birds pass the virus on to mosquitos, which can then infect humans," said Dr. Chris Evan,s DHEC's state entomologist. "Positive identifications serve as an important reminder to preventing mosquito bites. It's the most important step you can take to prevent the spread of illness from mosquitoes to people."

"The vast majority of people infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms," said Linda Bell, M.D. and DHEC's state epidemiologist. "Serious illness such as encephalitis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the brain, will only occur in less than one percent of people infected."

DHEC recommends residents pay attention to the most effective ways to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535 according to label instructions. Repellents help keep mosquitoes from biting.
  • Wear clothing that reduces the risk of skin exposure.
  • Exposure to mosquitoes is most common at night and during the early morning. Some species bite during the day, especially in wooded or other shaded areas. Avoid exposure during these times and in these areas.
  • Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes.
  • Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, birdbaths, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls.