Monthly Archives: May 2018

From Other Blogs: Sun safety, protect your vision, eating out with food allergies & more

A collection of health and environmental posts from other governmental blogs.

5 Simple Sun Safety Strategies

Skin cancer can sometimes be deadly, and the treatment often leaves scars. Why take the risk? There are many ways to be sun safe. Find strategies that work for you and your family, so you can keep your skin healthy and still have fun! From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) The Topic is Cancer blog

Eight tips to help you protect your vision

From the moment you wake up until you go to bed at night, your eyes are working to bring you the world. In fact, your eyes deliver 80 percent of the information you take in every day, which is why it’s important to protect your vision.vision

Lisa Niven, OD, optometrist for Palmetto Health-USC Ophthalmology, believes you can take steps to help improve your eye health.  From Flourish, Palmetto Health’s blog

Going Out to Eat with Food Allergies

Rick, Lois, Angus, and Samantha visit a new restaurant to celebrate Rick’s birthday. They are excited to try the restaurant they’ve heard so much about. The host seats them and they start looking over their menus to decide what to order. Lois is allergic to peanuts, so she wonders about the ingredients in the eggrolls.

The server approaches the table to take their orders. Lois asks if the restaurant has an ingredient list for the egg rolls. The server says yes and brings the list. Lois sees that the eggrolls contain peanuts, but the salad doesn’t, so she decides to have the salad Food_Safety_iStock_000046432084_XXXLargeinstead. …

Before the restaurant opened last month, staff received training on food allergies including what to do if a customer has an allergic reaction. …

Food allergies are a growing public health issue—about 15 million Americans have food allergies. And food allergic reactions are responsible for about 30,000 emergency room visits and 150-200 deaths a year.  From the CDC’s Your Health Your Environment blog

Food Safety Tips during Ramadan

Ramadan is observed by more than 1 billion Muslims around the world. This holy month is a time of fasting and prayer for the followers of Islam, who abstain from food and drink each day from dawn until dusk. The end of Ramadan is marked with a celebration known as Eid al-Fitr, which stands for “breaking of the fast.” The celebration involves lavish dinners, which include delicacies and large dishes of lamb, chicken, omelets and salads.

During large celebrations, it’s important to ensure food safety measures are taken to avoid getting family and friends sick. From the US Department of Agriculture blog

2018 Predicted to be Challenging Wildfire Year

The USDA Forest Service is well prepared to respond to wildfires in what is currently forecast to be another challenging year. In 2018, the agency has more than 10,000 firefighters, 900 engines, and hundreds of aircraft available to manage wildfires in cooperation with federal, tribal, state, local, and volunteer partners.

Large parts of the western U.S. are predicted to have above-average potential for significant wildfire activity this year, according to the latest forecast released by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC). The “National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook,” released May 1st, predicts above-average significant wildland fire potential in about a dozen Western states at various times between now and the end of August, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington. From the USDA blog

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

May is “Better Hearing and Speech Month,” a time to raise awareness about what you need to do to protect your hearing.

Did You Know?

Repeated exposure to loud noise over the years can damage your hearing—long after exposure has stopped.

This is just one of the many informative facts available on CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health’s new hearing loss website: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hearing_loss/default.html. From the CDC’s Your Health Your Environment blog

DHEC in the News: Flu, heart health, safety of romaine lettuce

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

This flu season one of South Carolina’s deadliest in recent years

Though flu season isn’t over, this one marked one of the deadliest years for the disease in recent South Carolina history, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

As of last week, 271 people have died across the state during the 2017-2018 flu season, passing last season by 177 people, according to Department of Health records.

 Flu season’s 271 deaths in SC were most in years

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Officials say this flu season in South Carolina was the deadliest in years, with over 100 deaths (more) than the previous one that had the most.

General Interest

Increasing exercise over 6-year span protects the heart

Heart failure affects about 5.7 million adults in the United States.

The most salient risk factors for this condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are: hypertension, a history of coronary heart disease or heart attacks, and diabetes.

Since this condition, once acquired, has to be managed for life, healthcare professionals recommend preventive strategies.

These usually involve making more healthful lifestyle choices by acquiring good dietary habits and exercising regularly.

Romaine lettuce likely safe to eat again, CDC says

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they believe E. coli-tainted romaine lettuce blamed for more than 170 illnesses in 32 states is likely no longer in circulation.

DHEC offering Free Hepatitis Testing during Hepatitis Awareness Month

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month, and while National Hepatitis Testing Day is on May 19, DHEC’s health departments will be providing free testing on May 16.  Know Hepatitis LogosAppointments are encouraged. Please call 1-855-4-SCDHEC (472-3432) to schedule your appointment.

There are many strains of the hepatitis virus but for this year’s Hepatitis Awareness Month DHEC is focusing on Hepatitis A, B, and C, the major causes of contagious liver disease. The department urges anyone who has ever injected drugs, even once, and individuals born between 1945 and 1965, to talk with their healthcare professional about getting tested for hepatitis C and ask if they should be vaccinated for hepatitis A and B.

Hepatitis A is highly contagious. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A may occur in the context of community-wide epidemics, or from exposures to food contaminated with the virus. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. It can also spread from close personal contact with an infected person such as through sex, needle-sharing by IV drug users or caring for someone who is ill.

Both Hepatitis B and C are usually spread when blood or another body fluid from a person infected with the virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Hepatitis B and C virus infections cause some people to develop an acute, or short-term, illness, while others develop a chronic, or long-term, illness.

In 2016, there were 33 cases of acute hepatitis B and 457 cases of chronic hepatitis B reported in South Carolina. Hepatitis B cases were on a steady decline nationally after the widespread use of the hepatitis B vaccine, but in recent years that rate of decline has slowed.

Nearly half of people living with the hepatitis C virus have no symptoms and don’t know they are infected. The vast majority of new infections go undiagnosed. In South Carolina, almost 6,000 people were reported with chronic hepatitis C in 2016. Of those, the majority were baby boomers who were born between 1945 and 1965. Baby boomers are six times more likely to be infected with hepatitis C than those in other age groups. They are also at a much higher risk of death from the virus.

Nationally, the number of new hepatitis C infections has nearly tripled over five years, reaching a 15-year high. The greatest increases and the highest overall number of cases were among young people ages 20-29 who inject drugs.

Vaccinations are available for hepatitis A and B but not C.

For more information about viral hepatitis and where to get tested visit www.scdhec.gov/ViralHepatitis or call the STD/HIV Hotline at 1-800-322-2437.

DHEC in the News: Population health, flooding hot spots, bees and honey

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

The Alliance for a Healthier SC Selected for Prestigious Population Health Challenge

The Alliance for a Healthier South Carolina, a coalition of more than 50 diverse organizations across the state working together to improve population health, is happy to announce that they are one of 15 finalists for the “States of Solutions” program, an effort convened by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

This small group of finalists will lay a foundation to advance equity by instituting improvement strategies and pursuing systemic changes in their state as part of Phase I of this initiative. Finalists that show substantial progress will move to Phase II, where they will engage in equity action labs and pursue initiatives to advance strategic and coordinated actions across sectors and communities to improve health equity.

General Interest

Flooding Hot Spots: Why Seas Are Rising Faster on the U.S. East Coast

Seen from a pedestrian footbridge overlooking Myrtle Park — a sliver of land that Norfolk, Virginia is allowing to revert to wetlands — the panorama of surrounding homes illustrates the accelerating sea level rise that has beleaguered this neighborhood along the Lafayette River.

A grey house, among the first raised in the area, is slightly elevated on cinderblocks, standing 2 feet off the ground. Nearby, owners of a white-sided house with black shutters have lifted their dwelling about 4 feet above ground level. And on the right, a brick house resting on cinderblocks rises incongruously 11 feet above the street.

The roads circling Myrtle Park are cracked and disintegrating due to frequent flooding. Tidal grasses like Spartina are springing up. The boulevard a block away, which leads to the world’s largest naval base, floods several times a year and the frequency is increasing.

Summer heat means more bees and honey

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Southwest Georgia beekeepers said, if you’re looking to buy honey or bees, this is the time of year to do so.

Remembering the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

One hundred years ago, one of the deadliest disease outbreaks in recorded history swept the globe. During the 1918 influenza (flu) pandemic an estimated 500 million people — or one-third of the world’s population — became infected with this virus, and the number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 675,000 of those deaths occurred in the United States.

The CDC says on its website that the pandemic was so severe that from 1917 to 1918, life expectancy in the United States fell by about 12 years, to 36.6 years for men and 42.2 years for women.

You can read more about the 1918 pandemic on the CDC’s website. In remembering the deadly outbreak, the federal public health agency notes that since 1918, tremendous public health advancements have been made:  the world has a better understanding influenza viruses and advances have been made in influenza vaccines, treatments and preparedness planning and response.

That said, influenza viruses continue to pose one of the world’s greatest infectious disease challenges, and the risk of the next influenza pandemic is always present.
Public health experts, as well as domestic and international partners are collaborating   to address remaining gaps and increase preparedness to minimize the effects of future influenza pandemics.

Visit the CDC’s website for more information on the 1918 influenza pandemic.