Monthly Archives: February 2016

Show Yourself Some Love

By Bryony Wardell

What lasts longer than roses and is sweeter than chocolate? The feeling of being healthy. This Valentine’s Day, remember that looking out for your own physical and mental wellness is a gift your loved ones will enjoy most of all.

So, go ahead and treat yourself this weekend and all year long with some healthy gifts for yourself.


Me Time
Finding time to exercise can be hard, and it seems like there is always an excuse not to. But making time for yourself to exercise will help you feel more energized, achieve a healthy weight, reduce stress and support your overall health. Whether you like to walk, bike, dance, swim, play sports or jump on a trampoline – give yourself 30 minutes a day, five days a week to do whatever you like to do to exercise.

Good Food
Fresh vegetables, lean proteins, omega-3’s and antioxidants – you deserve them all. Eating a healthy diet that’s low in fat, cholesterol and salt can help you lose weight and reduce your risk of heart disease and other conditions. Treat yourself with a Valentine’s meal that is full of flavor, but won’t weigh you down. Click here for tips on eating healthy at restaurants, and here are some great recipes from the American Heart Association.

Life is busy, and not getting enough rest and relaxation can take a toll on your stress, mental capacity, blood pressure and overall health. Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night to help your body and mind recover from the day. Here are some tips on relaxation techniques from Mayo Clinic.

Get a Coach To Help You Quit Smoking
Quitting smoking at any age can make a difference you can feel. It can improve your sense of smell and taste, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, lower your blood pressure, improve your breathing and so much more. The S.C. Tobacco Quitline is a FREE counseling service that helps South Carolina smokers and tobacco users quit today.
Services include:

  • One-on-one coaching (phone or web-based counseling and support)
  • Development of a personalized quit plan.
  • FREE nicotine patches, gum or lozenges are available to South Carolinians who enroll in Quitline services starting Jan. 1, 2016, while supplies last.

Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW


Epidemiologists Share Expertise With Peers

By Mary-Kathryn Craft

Southern state epidemiologists and top experts in disease control and prevention recently visited Columbia to share best practices.

The Convocation of Southern State Epidemiologists held its regional meeting January 25-27 in Columbia and included more than 60 attendees from a dozen states. DHEC Director Catherine Heigel offered welcoming remarks, and S.C. State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell was instrumental in organizing the meeting, which was in South Carolina for the first time in more than 15 years.

Several DHEC experts gave presentations showcasing successful practices and experiences in South Carolina.

They included:

  • Dr. Bell, S.C. State Epidemiologist, Hepatitis A in Food Handlers: When is Postexpo​sure Prophylaxis Warranted for Restaurant Patrons?; Disaster Epidemiology, and Notifications of Breaches in Infection Control
  • Dana Waggoner, Microbiologist in the Bureau of Labs, Detecting the Source of a Nationwide Listeria Outbreak
  • David Young, Foodborne Disease Epidemiologist, Culture Independent Diagnostic Testing and Case Exclusion
  • Nelis Soto-Ramirez, Biostatistician in the Division of Acute Disease Epidemiology, Comparisons of SAS, STATA, R, Epi-Info
  • Elizabeth Carter, Syndromic Surveillance Epidemiologist, Surveillance and Data Collection for Disaster Response
  • Rachel Radcliffe, S.C. State Public Health Veterinarian, Expected Changes in Animal Rabies Management
  • Stan Ostrawski, Infection Preventionist, Conducting Hospital Infection Control Assessments for ELC Supplemental Activities
  • Dr. Leon Bullard, Medical Consultant, Group A Strep Cluster Investigations

Congratulations to all the presenters and thank you for sharing your knowledge to help advance the health of the state.

#GoRedWearRed on Friday, February 5

By S.C. DHEC Staff

Did you know that heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year – more than all cancers combined?

It’s a startling statistic, and raising awareness can help save the life of a sister, daughter, mother, friend or coworker. 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes.

One easy thing you can do to help is to wear red on National Wear Red Day this Friday, February 5 to raise awareness about the risk of heart disease and stroke for women. #GoRedWearRed #WearRedforWomen Who will you go red for?

Go Red for South Carolina
In S.C., there is work to do to help improve the health of the ladies in our lives. Heart disease is the second leading cause of death for all women in South Carolina, and is the leading killer for African-American women in the Palmetto State. More than 62 percent of women in S.C. are overweight or obese and about 53 percent do not get the recommended amount of exercise. One in three women have high blood pressure, and one in eight women live with diabetes.

Ways to prevent heart disease

Help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke-related deaths by following and sharing these important health recommendations:

  • Stop smoking or using tobacco. There are free resources to help you quit – you can do it!
  • Maintain a healthy weight with a Body Mass Index between 19 and 24. Find your body mass index on this chart. 
  • Eat a healthy diet that’s low in fat, cholesterol and salt
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes most days of the week
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Take your medicine
  • Manage your diabetes
  • Get regular health screenings and make sure to have your cholesterol and blood pressure checked.

Know the warning signs of a heart attack:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back
  • Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint
  • Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder
  • Shortness of breath

And, if you think you or someone else is having a heart attack, call 911 right away!

For more information, please visit DHEC’s heart disease webpage.

Happy World Wetlands Day

By Heather Preston,  Director, Water Quality Division, SCDHEC – Bureau of Water

February 2 is World Wetlands Day, and it’s a great day to learn about South Carolina’s beautiful wetlands and their importance. The state’s vibrant marshes and wonder-filled swamps are not only a natural heritage attraction for visitors, but they also play a critical role in ensuring a healthy watershed and environment.

There are approximately 4.1 million acres of wetlands in South Carolina according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Wetlands are vegetated aquatic ecosystems that include areas such as Carolina bays, marshes and swamps.

Wetlands support the state’s economy by providing outdoor recreation opportunities and habitat for wildlife popular with hunters and fisherman such as waterfowl, fish and shellfish. Wetlands are also home to reptiles and amphibian populations as well as rare aquatic plants.


An American alligator swims lazily through lily pads in a wetland buffer area.

In addition to supporting recreation and wildlife, the watery environs provide safety and health benefits to communities in the state by reducing flooding, cleaning and replenishing water supplies.


DHEC Wetland Program employee Rusty Wenerick conducting research for a national wetland quality study.

One of South Carolina’s treasured wetlands is Francis Beidler Forest – a nationally and internationally recognized old growth swamp. It is a Ramsar Wetland of International Significance and contains South Carolina’s oldest confirmed Bald Cypress tree and the second oldest Bald Cypress in the world.


Francis Beidler Forest

If you haven’t visited a wetland area, make plans to get outside and explore these natural wonders.

For more information on DHEC’s water quality program, visit