Monthly Archives: March 2015

Let’s Talk WIC

By Cassandra Harris

Have you seen our latest ‪‎WIC‬ public service announcement on TV? If not, take a look at it here and find out what WIC has to offer.

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program

A nutrition program that provides health education, healthy foods, breastfeeding support, and other services free of charge to South Carolina families who qualify, WIC is good food and a whole lot more! 

If you are pregnant, are breastfeeding, or have a child under the age of 5, you may qualify to receive our WIC services. Learn more about WIC at:

You Have the Power to Prevent Diabetes!

By Betsy Crick

Dr. Rhonda Hill, DHEC Director of Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity and School Health, along community partners at a press conference at the S.C. State House celebrating Diabetes Alert Day earlier this week.

Dr. Rhonda Hill, DHEC Director of Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity and School Health, along community partners at a press conference at the S.C. State House celebrating Diabetes Alert Day earlier this week.

Type 2 diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance, a condition linked to excess weight in which your body’s cells do not use insulin properly. Over time, high blood glucose damages nerves and blood vessels, leading to problems such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, dental disease, and amputations.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals can delay and possibly prevent the disease by losing a small amount of weight (5 to 7 percent of total body weight) through 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week, and healthier eating.

Diabetes was linked to 1,239 deaths in our state in 2013.  DHEC is working with partners across the state to provide greater access to key resources to help South Carolinians either prevent or manage the disease.  Key initiatives include:

  • Increasing the number of federally-qualified health centers and medical practices in our state that have modified their electronic health records to identify people at risk for developing type 2 diabetes and assisting them with getting the help they need;
  • Increasing the number of recognized American Diabetes Association or accredited American Association of Diabetes Educators self-management education/training programs in South Carolina’s federally qualified health centers and medical practices; and
  • Increasing the number of active diabetes prevention program sites for the primary prevention of type 2 diabetes.

To learn more about diabetes prevention and management, please visit the DHEC website.

Raising Awareness about Tuberculosis

By Cassandra Harris

Today is World TB Day, and an opportunity to raise awareness about Tuberculosis (TB) and efforts to prevent and treat this disease. Caused by a germ called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the TB germ is found primarily in the lungsbut can attack any part of the body.

Understanding TB

Spread through the air from one person to another, ​pulmonary TB can cause symptoms including a bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer, pain in the chest, coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm), weakness or fatigue, weight loss, no appetite, chills, fever, and night sweats. When someone who is sick with TB coughs, speaks, laughs, or sneezes, people nearby may breathe TB germs into their lungs. Individuals cannot get TB by shaking someone’s hand, sharing food or drink, touching bed linens or toilet seats, sharing toothbrushes, or kissing.

With this stated, it is important to note that not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. There are two TB-related conditions: latent TB infection and TB disease (active TB). Without treatment for latent TB infection, approximately 5 to 10% of individuals infected with the germ develop the disease. The remaining 90% of the individuals with latent TB carry the bacteria for a lifetime without developing the disease. People with latent TB infection are not infectious and cannot spread TB bacteria to others.

Pervasive, 1/3 of the people worldwide are infected with TB. In South Carolina, approximately 150,000 are infected with the tuberculosis germ, with 112 active TB cases reported in 2013. The total number of reported active TB cases in South Carolina shrank to just 79 in 2014.


While there is currently no approved vaccine for TB in the US, the good news is that TB is curable with a prescribed course of antibiotics.

DHEC’s Role In Contact Investigations

As part of our work to protect the public’s health, DHEC routinely conducts contact investigations for various communicable diseases, including TB. When alerted of a potential TB exposure, DHEC will complete a contact investigation, evaluation, and treatment if indicated for any individual that is infected with TB. During a contact investigation, trained health department staff determines which individuals have been exposed by visiting all the environments where the person with TB has been, and evaluates each site to determine how the air was circulated.

Recently, our staff was informed by a medical facility of a possible case of tuberculosis disease involving an individual at Conway High School.  Our staff took immediate action to thoroughly assess and manage the situation. Working closely with school officials, we were able to determine where others could potentially have been exposed, as well as which individuals were possibly exposed, and provide testing accordingly.

Thanks to the hard work of our staff, a total of 134 individuals received testing on March 13, 2015 and March 18, 2015. All of these test results are negative.

With the goal of preventing further exposure and potential spread of illness, we make every effort to test all individuals who were identified as at risk for possible exposure. We greatly appreciate all of the hard work of our staff, members of the school district, and individuals who participated in this contact investigation.

For more information about TB, go to

Young Innovators Recognized for Environmental Efforts

By Betsy Crick

Check out this year’s Champions of the Environment grant winners!  DHEC awards up to eight Champions of the Environment grants each school year to S.C. kindergarten through 12th grade students.  Groups are recognized for prevention or reduction of pollution in the air, water or land; waste reduction; restoration, preservation or enhancement of natural areas; water or energy efficiency.  The program is sponsored by DHEC, International Paper and SCE&G.  To learn more, visit the DHEC website.

Protecting pets and humans from the threat of rabies

By Cassandra Harris

Cat and Dog

Did a new puppy, kitten, or ferret join your family this year? Do you have an old furry and loyal family friend? Join us this spring as we help protect pets and their humans from rabies​.

Starting this month, participating veterinarians across the state will be conducting DHEC-sponsored rabies clinics in an effort to provide vaccines for dogs, cats, and ferrets. At no more than $10 per vaccine, these clinics provide easy access to affordable and conveniently located vaccinations.

Found in every county in South Carolina, rabies is fatal once the virus reaches the brain. In 2014, South Carolina saw 139 laboratory confirmed cases of rabies in animals throughout the state, including 70 raccoons, 33 skunks, and 9 foxes. Wild animals carry the disease most often but domestic pets can contract rabies as well.

Unvaccinated pets that are exposed to the rabies virus must be quarantined or euthanized. With this in mind, it is important to remember that the heartache of losing a pet to this disease can be avoided through vaccination.

With the help of our partners, approximately 11,300 pets were vaccinated at our DHEC-sponsored rabies clinics last year. While we have no way of knowing how many actual cases of rabies there are in South Carolina’s wild animal population, the best thing a pet owner can do is to vaccinate their pet against the virus and keep their pet’s vaccinations up to date.

DHEC-sponsored rabies clinics are now underway. Protect yourself; protect your pet; vaccinate your pet today. To find a clinic near you, click here. For additional information on rabies, please visit