DHEC in the News: West Nile Virus, Infant Sleep Safety, Mt. Pleasant Water, Assisted Living Facility

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

Hurricane Matthew continues to leave its mark on Beaufort County with West Nile cases

(Beaufort, SC – Island Packet) Just two human cases of the West Nile virus have ever been confirmed in Beaufort County — both within eight months of Hurricane Matthew.

Gregg Hunt, Beaufort County Mosquito Control director, said the timing of the events is no coincidence.

“Hurricane Matthew has played a major role in what we’re seeing,” Hunt said.

“After Hurricane Matthew, a lot of debris had fallen into standing water caused by the flooding and tidal waves,” he said. “And organic material decaying in the water produces an ideal breeding ground for that kind of mosquito (that carries West Nile) … That’s what set the tone after the hurricane.”

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According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control, about 1 in 5 people who are infected with the West Nile virus will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. These people likely will have a full recovery, but fatigue and weakness could last for weeks or months.

Less than 1 percent of those infected will develop a serious neurological illness such as encephalitis or meningitis, according to the release.

Mom’s heartbreaking Facebook post raises awareness about safe sleeping conditions for babies

(Greenville, SC – FOX Carolina) According to DHEC, 194 babies died between 2009 and 2015 in South Carolina due of unsafe sleeping conditions, making this the third leading cause of infant deaths in the state.

“This cause of death is 100 percent preventable,” said Michelle Greco, manager of the Child Abuse Prevention Program at Greenville Health System.

Greco says babies under 1 year of age should sleep in a crib or bassinet with a fitted sheet and a firm mattress.

“Anytime that an infant under the first year of life is put down to sleep it needs to be treated the same,” said Greco, “They need to be alone with no other people, pets or objects.”

Mt. Pleasant residents ‘trying to have faith’ as they wait on results of DHEC water tests

(Mt. Pleasant, SC – ABC News4)  Several people living in Mount Pleasant want answers to concerns over water quality, and DHEC is now doing something about it.

Tuesday, workers were in Mount Pleasant testing water samples. It’s all part of an effort to find out if there is something in the water that could pose a health hazard.

DHEC samples were taken from three houses in the Mount Pleasant area. Officials with Mount Pleasant Waterworks said they chose those areas because of recent concerns.

Charleston assisted living facility where woman was killed by nearby alligator could face enforcement from DHEC

(Charleston, SC – Post and Courier) …Department of Health and Environmental Control investigators found [Brookdale Charleston] staff did not follow their own guidelines to conduct night checks on [Bonnie] Walker, a plan put in place when she had wandered off before. She had left the facility days prior “looking to go home,” and staff decided she needed to be housed in a memory care unit.

Now Brookdale Charleston could be facing enforcement action from DHEC. Representatives of the facility met with state officials June 13. A spokesman for DHEC said the two parties are “working on finalizing a consent order.” Brookdale declined to comment on the matter.

Such meetings are an opportunity for a facility to present any evidence of their own, said Pam Dukes, formerly a health regulator with DHEC. It would be “very unusual” for the negotiation not to end in enforcement, Dukes explained, which could mean a fine or a license suspension.

For more health and environmental news, check Live Healthy SC regularly.

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