Here’s a look at health and environmental news around South Carolina.
Environmental testing to occur at abandoned SC mill site
LYMAN, S.C. (WRAL.com) Environmental testing could start by the end of the month at an abandoned mill in South Carolina to determine how best to clean it up. Lyman officials hope the 50-acre (8 hectare) property could be redeveloped to bring new life to an area that has become an eyesore after the plant closed in 2005.
‘I paid my bill of $36 and left’: SC woman spotted opossum inside restaurant during meal
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS.com) Customers at a Columbia area restaurant recently received an unexpected visit at the bar. A South Carolina woman says she and her family noticed an opossum under the counter at Applebee’s on Fernandina Road Friday night. Needless to say, the woman was less than thrilled by the possum’s appearance.
Experts say the opioid epidemic is putting people at risk for Hepatitis C infections
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBFNews.com) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates nearly 2.4 million Americans live with Hepatitis C. Studies show there’s a link between the infectious disease and the opioid epidemic. In South Carolina, the number of diagnosed cases has gone up since 2010. Hepatitis C is most commonly spread through injection drug use. The CDC reports in 2012, there were around 3,300 cases of Hepatitis C in the Palmetto State. That number nearly doubled in 2018 with a little over 6,400 cases of chronic Hepatitis C, with the rate of approximately 127 per 100,000 people.
Summer is the peak season for lightning. Even though lightning typically does not result in mass destruction like other storm-related concerns, lightning can be just as dangerous. This week is National Lightning Safety Awareness Week. Use this week to learn more about lightning and how to protect yourself.
Lightning strikes the earth more than 8 million times per day. Each year in the United States, about 300 people are struck by lightning. Of those struck, about 30 people are killed and others suffer lifelong disabilities. The bolts of lightning are hotter than the surface of the sun and can reach temperatures around 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Common unknown facts about lightning:
- All thunderstorms produce lightning. Lightning often strikes outside the area of heavy rain and may strike as far as 10 miles from any rainfall.
- If you can hear thunder, you are in danger. Even if the sky is blue, protect yourself from a potential lightning threat.
- Lightning travels through wiring and plumbing. Do not use a corded phone or take a bath/shower during a storm.
Follow these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to learn more about how to stay safe indoors and outdoors when lightning occurs. Download the National Weather Service Lightning Safety brochure for you and your family.
Participating local DHEC health departments will administer FREE HIV testing tomorrow, June 27, 2019 in recognition of National HIV Testing Day (NHTD). No appointment necessary, but encouraged. First observed in 1995, NHTD was created to increase awareness about HIV and encourage people to get tested. This year’s theme is “Doing It My Way.”
HIV is a virus spread through certain body fluids that attack the body’s immune system, often called T cells. Over time, HIV can destroy these cells so much that the body cannot fight off infections and disease and therefore creates a week immune system, making it susceptible to various diseases and cancers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, including approximately 166,000 people who are unaware of their status. In the United States, HIV is mainly spread by having anal or vaginal sex with someone who is already infected without using a condom or sharing needles, syringes, rinse water, or other equipment used to prepare drugs for injection with someone who is infected. Although it is not as common, HIV can be spread from mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding or by being stuck with an HIV-contaminated needle.
According to the 2018 South Carolina Health Assessment:
- The number of new HIV cases decreased 32.3% from 1,170 cases in 1998 to 792 cases in 2016.
- African-Americans made up 28% of the population in South Carolina, yet were comprised 68% of people newly diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
- People ages 20-29 years old had higher rates than other age groups.
- People ages 50-59 years old comprised 31% of the people living with HIV/AIDS.
- In 2011, 34.7% of adults had been tested for HIV, compared to 37.1% of adults in 2016.
- Just over 46% of Hispanic/Latinos in South Carolina were tested for HIV.
By ensuring that everyone who has HIV is aware of their infection and is receiving treatment, new HIV infections in South Carolina can be dramatically reduced. Visit your local public health clinic and get tested. (Tell a friend, too!)
Summer is in full swing. Now is the time to take advantage of our state’s fresh produce by using the S.C. Farmers and Roadside Market App. The web-based app shows the location, hours of operation and accepted payment types for hundreds of statewide farmers markets and roadside produce stands.
Payment types may include: cash, credit cards, WIC, SNAP, and senior vouchers.
Approximately 356 markets and stands are on the app statewide. In addition to giving locations and hours of markets and stands, the app also provides healthy recipes featuring in-season produce each month.
“The app makes it easy to find local, affordable options for fresh produce, which can empower families to make healthier food choices,” said Nick Davidson, DHEC interim director of Public Health.
Seasonal programs are also making local produce more affordable in various parts of the state. DHEC’s WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides WIC participants with checks that can be used to buy approved fresh produce at authorized farmers markets and roadside stands.
To use the S.C. Farmers and Roadside Market App, visit www.scdhec.gov/farmersmarkets. For more information about WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, visit www.scdhec.gov/Health/WIC/FarmersMarkets/.
Released in 2018, the assessment analyzes major health statistics to address health concerns and uncover possible outcomes. Because the document is approximately 346 pages, we will summarize key points in upcoming blog posts. So far we have given an overview of the report and covered South Carolina demographics.
The next installment of the 2018 Live Healthy State Health Assessment summary covers the leading causes of death and hospitalizations for South Carolina residents.
Why is finding this information important?
Monitoring types of hospitalizations provides information about health conditions that affect our state. Programs can be created and implemented to reduce the prevalence of certain preventable causes of hospitalization. Leading causes of death describe the health profile of a population, which sets priorities for health policy makers and evaluates the impact of preventive programs. Lastly, by examining premature mortality rates, resources can be targeted toward strategies that will extend years of life. Many of the causes of death are considered avoidable or preventable.
Top 5 Causes of Hospitalizations in South Carolina in 2016
- Circulatory System Disease (which includes heart disease and stroke) – 85,725 people
- Births and Pregnancy Complications – 57,467 people
- Digestive System Disease – 47,435 people
- Respiratory System Disease – 45,201 people
- Injury and Poisoning – 41,390 people
Leading Causes of Death in South Carolina in 2016
- Cancer – 10,349 people
- Heart Disease – 10,183 people
- Unintentional Injuries – 2,998 people
- Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease – 2,873 people
- Stroke – 2,627 people
- Alzheimer’s Disease – 2,481 people
- Diabetes Mellitus – 1,369 people
- Kidney Disease – 902 people
- Septicemia – 871 people
- Suicide – 818 people
Premature deaths are described as deaths that occur before a person reaches the expected age of 75 years. Years of potential life lost (YPLL) is a cumulative measure based on the average years a person would have lived if they had not died prematurely.
For more details about the leading causes of death and hospitalization in South Carolina, view the report.