Monthly Archives: September 2017

DHEC in the News: West Nile, prescription drug arrest, Irma impact

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

Second West Nile virus case confirmed in Rock Hill resident

A second case of West Nile virus has been confirmed in a Rock Hill resident, according to York County Emergency Management. …

To prevent mosquito exposure, the health department recommends residents …

Myrtle Beach dental assistant charged with obtaining prescription drugs illegally while on the job

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A dental assistant was arrested Monday for allegedly obtaining prescription sedatives unlawfully while on the job.

According to online records from the J. Reuben Long Detention Center, Kathleen Capra, 48, was charged with theft of controlled substances.

General Interest

Irma spurs resurgence in allergy season, mosquito breeding

SOUTH CAROLINA (WSAV) – It’s been just over a week since Irma hit the Lowcountry, but many are left dealing with health concerns and irritants from the storm.

Dr. Jaime Lagos says Irma has left a trifecta of troubles for some allergy sufferers.

“The weed pollen has been stirred up to very large levels, and therefore they’re getting a lot more weed pollen,” Dr. Lagos says, “And on top of that, we have a lot more moisture which is causing the mold spores to reproduce at much higher levels.”

Add that to elm pollen, and it can make any post-storm cleanup unbearable.

Mosquitoes are another irritant causing issues after the storm.

National Sickle Cell Awareness Month

By Malerie Hartsell, MPH, CHES
Program Coordinator
Children with Special Health Care Needs

Did you know September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month?

Efforts to recognize Sickle Cell Month began in 1983 when the Congressional Black Caucus introduced the resolution to Congress.  President Reagan signed the resolution in August of 1983 making September National Sickle Cell Awareness Month.   Since then, organizations across the globe have increased public awareness surrounding this crippling illness.

By recognizing National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, more individuals are educated about the struggles that come along with daily management of this debilitating genetic disease. Increasing awareness is one way to debunk stereotypes and stigmas associated with persons who have sickle cell disease (SCD) and further highlights risk factors related to SCD, such as having the sickle cell trait (SCT).

What is SCD?  SCD is a blood disorder that causes sickling of the red blood cells, which diminishes the amount of oxygen the red blood cell can carry throughout the body.  sickle cellsPersons who have SCD suffer from crises — episodes of intense and excruciating pain that may be in one or multiple parts of the body when sickle-shaped red blood cells become stuck in a blood vessel and cause a disruption of blood flow in that particular area.  While people are most familiar with sickle cell anemia, other variations of sickle cell, or mutations, include sickle cell thalassemia, sickle beta thalassemia, and others.

Who is affected?  The actual number of persons living with SCD is unknown in the United States, but it is estimated that SCD affects approximately 100,000 people annually. Sickle cell disease also affects millions of people worldwide and it is more common among African-Americans.

What is SCT?  SCT is where a person inherits one sickle cell gene and one normal gene from either of their parents.  Persons with sickle cell trait  usually do not have any of the symptoms of SCD, but they can pass the trait on to their children.

How common is SCT? Sickle cell trait is an inherited blood disorder that affects 1 million to 3 million Americans and 8 to 10 percent of African-Americans. Sickle cell trait can also affect Hispanics, South Asians, Caucasians from southern Europe, and people from Middle Eastern countries. More than 100 million people worldwide have sickle cell trait. (Source:

SCD and SCT are inherited conditions, which means a person may be born with the illness or trait.   SCD or SCT cannot develop overtime nor is it contagious.  SCD is inherited when a child receives two sickle cell genes from both parents. For someone that has SCT, the likelihood of having a child that has SCD or SCT is different.  If both parents have SCT, there is a 50 percent chance the child will have SCT, a 25 percent chance that child may have SCD, and 25 percent chance the child will not have SCD or SCT.sickle-cell-flow-chart

 Care and Treatment

Early diagnosis and monitoring can make a difference in the quality of life and number of years lived for someone with SCD.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends:

  • Babies from birth to 1 year of age should see a doctor every two to three months.
  • Children from 1 to 2 years of age should see a doctor at least every three months.
  • Children and adults from 2 years of age or older should see a doctor at least once every year.

Persons with SCD should be referred to a hematologist or an experienced general pediatrician, internist, or family practitioner.

Currently, only hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) can cure SCD; however, this is very intensive treatment and not everyone qualifies or can afford this treatment.  To help prevent complications and medicate the acute or chronic pain episodes as they occur, hematologist will start children on daily doses of penicillin at birth up until at least 5 years of age.  Blood transfusions are utilized to help reduce the risk of stroke.  Additionally, hydroxyurea, a drug that increase the levels of fetal hemoglobin has helped reduce pain, hospitalizations, and lung damage.

Visit the CDC’s website to learn more about sickle cell. You also can find information on the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute site.

DHEC in the News: Charleston flooding, Tropical Storm Irma damage, removable seawalls, West Nile

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

Downtown Charleston is flooding more, with or without hurricanes. Here’s why

CHARLESTON David and Claudia Cohen were busy raking debris from their yard and reflecting on Charleston’s third big flood in three years when a car whizzed down Gibbes Street near the Holy City’s historic Battery.

Driving the auto was a neighbor, who slowed just enough to yell sarcastically about Charleston’s watery troubles.

“I’m getting a couple of cyanide pills,’’ the neighbor wisecracked through the rolled-down window. …

Rising sea levels and major storms are swamping streets, neighborhoods and popular tourist attractions with a frequency and intensity that is hard for many people to ignore. The flooding is affecting millions of dollars worth of property in South Carolina’s oldest city, one of the state’s top vacation destinations.

How Tropical Storm Irma damaged South Carolina’s coastal communities

Even though the South Carolina coast was 200 miles or more from the eye of Tropical Storm Irma, the state’s beaches and barrier islands did not escape her wrath.

All of them saw some degree of damage from high winds and rising water. In some cases, beach sand was carried several blocks inland.

Most communities were still assessing their situations at the end of the week, a process that officials said could take months.

Studies at odds on removable seawalls as storm waves slam South Carolina beachfront homes

The surf from Tropical Storm Irma swamped past the pillars meant to prop up the experimental removable seawalls that advocates hoped would protect resort homes in the Wild Dunes and Harbor Island communities.

Whether the removed walls would have made a difference, however, remains in dispute as property owners, conservationists and the state wait on the courts to decide their future.

Meanwhile, the research done so far on their effectiveness is inconclusive.

Mayor Rhodes: “We have just one isolated case of West Nile. And we’re on top of it.”

Myrtle Beach, S.C. — In a Friday evening video message posted to the Myrtle Beach City Government’s Facebook page, Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes told residents there is a case of West Nile Virus in Myrtle Beach.

City officials said the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control confirmed the virus Friday.

What Are You Packing For National Healthy Lunch Day?

“What am I going to eat for lunch?”

It’s a question asked countless times each day. And, more often than not, the choice that is ultimately made isn’t a healthy one. Most of us struggle when it comes to making healthy lunch choices.

But we can learn to make better choices, and there’s no better time to start than National Healthy Lunch Day, which is September 19. DHEC encourages you to join in this effort by the American Diabetes Association aimed at raising awareness about the need to make healthy choices at lunchtime.

The intent is to spark dialogue about the importance of healthy eating and encourage people across America to develop healthier lunch habits, not just on September 19 but in the days, months and years to come.

So, instead of asking yourself, “What am I going to eat for lunch today?” consider instead: “What will my healthy lunch be today?”

Get started September 19 by preparing or purchasing a healthy, nutritious lunch. More than that, be ambitious and get your team at work — or your entire workplace — involved. Not only will it be fun, but it will be healthy.

Need some ideas for healthy lunches? Click here for some recipes.

DHEC in the News: Mosquitoes after Irma, Florida nursing home tragedy, swim warnings in parts of Congaree and Saluda rivers

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

Beaufort Co agencies monitor mosquito population after Irma

BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) — Beaufort County Mosquito Control (BCMC) and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) will continue to conduct surveillance for mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases following Tropical Storm Irma.

BCMC anticipates an escalating and significant increase in the biting mosquito populations throughout the Lowcountry.

Florida tragedy highlights challenge for families seeking senior care

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – Medicare records show a “below-average” rating for a Florida nursing home where an air conditioning outage led to the deaths of eight elderly clients.

The deaths are linked to heat conditions that developed at the Rehabilitation Center in Hollywood, Florida in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Hollywood police have launched a criminal investigation into the home’s operations.

A city spokeswoman says fire crews had been called to the facility 127 times over a one year period.

Warnings raised against swimming in Congaree, Saluda

COLUMBIA, SC People are being warning against swimming on parts of the Congaree and lower Saluda rivers after laboratory tests found elevated bacteria counts in the water.

Five spots on the rivers between Saluda Shoals Park and the Rosewood Drive boat landing were found to have bacteria levels above the safe swimming standard, according to a coalition of environmental groups and governments that are jointly checking water quality.