By Jamie Shuster
Stopping the spread of infectious diseases requires a rapid response by public health staff, as well as a willingness to coordinate efforts across geographic divides.
Last week, an alert was issued warning that as many as 5,000 people who visited a restaurant in Springfield, Missouri between May 8 and 16, might have been exposed to hepatitis A.
Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by a virus. People usually become sick within 15 to 50 days of exposure to the virus, so it’s important to get treatment as soon as possible to prevent the virus from developing into hepatitis A infection.
Treatment consists of a two-dose vaccine. The first vaccine dose must be given within 14 days of exposure to be effective, which means those at risk need to be reached and treated quickly.
Earlier this week, two people visiting the South Carolina Lowcountry heard the news and realized they had dined at the restaurant in Missouri during the specified dates. They were approaching the end of the 14-day window to get a vaccine and called DHEC for help. Our Lowcountry Public Health immunization team quickly connected them with our epidemiology staff to perform an assessment.
After determining that the individuals should get vaccinated, our Lowcountry immunization team offered to provide the vaccinations during weekend hours, if necessary, to make sure treatment was received quickly. Both individuals received vaccines here in the Lowcountry and were able to carry on their visit with peace of mind.
Thank you to our Lowcountry Immunization and Epi Teams for your quick response and willingness to go the extra mile to help these individuals, who were far from home, access post-exposure hepatitis A treatment.
By Jennifer Read
Several members of our Lowcountry Public Health team gathered with representatives from Orangeburg County, the USDA, and town officials to celebrate the recent opening of the Holly Hill government complex.
Above is a photo of Public Health team members Diane Williams, Rosalind Connell, LaTonya Wearing, Kathryn Gramling, Dana Millet, Deborah Trevithick, and Linda Ashley in front of the new complex.
Our new Holly Hill clinic is open for business in Orangeburg County, offering immunization, WIC, HIV/STD screening, family planning, maternal and child health, and home health services.
For more pictures of the Holly Hill ribbon cutting ceremony, visit our Facebook page.
By Jamie Shuster
Many people don’t know that our Bureau of Drug Control (BDC) serves not only a regulatory role, but also provides enforcement of South Carolina’s Controlled Substances Act. In fact, our BDC inspectors are actually pharmacists who have undergone additional training and become state law enforcement officers.
Our BDC inspectors conduct onsite inspections and audits of pharmacies, hospitals, and practitioners to make sure they are properly recording, storing, and handling controlled substances. These important members of our Public Health team make recommendations and offer assistance to help these entities follow proper procedures in handling controlled substances. They respond to complaints and concerns reported to DHEC that sometimes indicate criminal activity or misuse of controlled substances. When warranted, our BDC inspectors also make arrests.
Last week, one of our BDC inspectors for the Midlands region, Eddie Black, Jr., was awarded the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for routinely going above and beyond the call of duty in his work at DHEC Public Health. (Above is a picture of Eddie receiving his award from DHEC Director Catherine Templeton.) Continue reading
By Jennifer Read
May is Stroke Awareness Month, which gives us an opportunity to shine a spotlight on one of the leading causes of death and disability in South Carolina. In 2012, 2,331 people died from stroke in our state, and more than 9,000 individuals were treated for a stroke in South Carolina hospitals.
The good news is that strokes can be prevented by understanding and controlling risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tobacco use, diabetes, and obesity.
Receiving immediate medical attention is critical to improving outcomes for stroke patients. If you think someone may be having a stroke, remember to think FAST:
- Face drooping – one side of the face droops or goes numb
- Arm weakness – one arm goes weak or is numb
- Speech difficulty – speech may be slurred or the person is unable to speak or hard to understand
- Time to call 9-1-1 – call EMS right away if you see these symptoms in someone, even if symptoms go away; check the time so you know when the symptoms first began
For more resources on stroke, visit the American Stroke Association.
By Jamie Shuster
Over the last few weeks, our outreach team has been busy promoting the Fit Family Challenge SC to our clients and community partners. The Fit Family Challenge is a healthy lifestyle program designed to incentivize South Carolina families to move more and eat healthier. Over a challenge period of eight weeks (May 15 – July 10), families set goals, keep track of healthy habits online, and log weekly minutes of activity to enter to win prizes to encourage them to keep going. Continue reading