Author Archives: SC DHEC

DHEC in the News: Opioids, free HIV testing, poison ivy

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

S.C. moving to address opioid crisis

In December, Gov. Henry McMaster, calling opioid abuse a “silent hurricane going on in our state,” took several actions including limiting opioid prescriptions under two state programs.

He declared a statewide public health emergency that allows authorities to more easily coordinate emergency management, health care and law enforcement resources. …

Six months later, McMaster says the state has made progress in a dual crisis – for health care and law enforcement.

LRMC offers free HIV testing at local Walgreens

Little River Medical Center (LRMC) is working with Walgreens to help provide free HIV testing and information on National HIV Testing Day Wednesday, June 27, between 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Free testing will be available in Conway at Walgreens located at 1601 Church Street.

Free, confidential and fast test results will be available without the need to schedule an appointment. LRMC counselors will be on hand to answer questions about HIV prevention and treatment options.

General Interest

Test your poison ivy knowledge before the plant ruins your summer

(CNN)It was a close encounter in 2012 that made microbiologist John Jelesko take an interest in poison ivy.

The Virginia Tech associate professor was cutting up a downed tree with an electric chainsaw. What he didn’t realize was that his power cable had been dragging through poison ivy. …

“Within 48 hours, I had your classic case of poison ivy on my arm. And as a scientist, I said, ‘This is interesting, how bad can it be? I’ll just leave this untreated,'” he recalled, sheepishly. “In about two weeks, I had learned just how uncomfortable poison ivy rash could be.”

Take steps to avoid heat-related illnesses

Summer won’t officially make its appearance this year until June 21, but it is already hot. With the National Weather Service predicting temperatures in the mid- to upper-90s in some parts of the state — and even triple digits in the Midlands — this week, DHEC urges you to take precautions.

Whether you are out exercising or simply traveling to the grocery store to shop, take steps to protect yourself and others from possible heat-related illnesses. It’s not safe to leave a person in a parked car in warm or hot weather, even if the windows are cracked or the car is in shade. Children’s body temperatures warm at a rate three to five times faster than an adult’s.

What can be done to prevent heat-related illnesses?

Heat-related deaths are preventable. The best answer is to stay in an air-conditioned area. When you can’t do that, consider these tips:

  • Drink lots of water. If you are doing an outdoors activity, drink two to four glasses of at least 16 ounces of cool fluids every hour. Don’t drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar, these actually cause you to lose body fluid.
  • Avoid strenuous activity.
  • Take frequent cool showers or baths.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothes.
  • Limit sun exposure.
  • Never, ever, leave children or pets in a parked car. Having any person or pet in a car in the summer months without air conditioning is like putting them in an oven.

Learn more

Visit the DHEC website for more information on heat-related illnesses. You can also get useful prevention tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

From Other Blogs: Drinking water, safe summer meals, productive aging and work & more

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

Our Drinking Water and Forest Service Research

Behind every drop of water from the tap is an entire forest ecosystem. And while it’s easy to take drinking water for granted, you might be surprised to learn that the nation’s largest single source of water is the National Forest System, the network of national forests stewarded by the USDA Forest Service. Many of these national forest lands overlay the source areas for important rivers and aquifer systems, and more than 60 million Americans rely on them for drinking water.

Scientists from Forest Service Research and Development, or R&D, investigate the quality and quantity of water from forests and conduct research that informs water stewardship and reduces costs. For example, one R&D study showed that nearly 21 million people in the South receive their drinking water from national forest lands – roughly equivalent to the population of Florida! — From the US Department of Agriculture blog

FNS Provides Tools to Support Safe Summer Meals

As the school year ends across the country and summer approaches, summer meals are critical in the lives of millions of our nation’s youth, whose risk for food insecurity increases during the summer months when they no longer have access to the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs (NSLP).

Summer meal programs, including the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Seamless Summer Option within the NSLP, present the opportunity to help alleviate summertime food insecurity and positively impact children’s growth and development by offering nutritious meals and encouraging children to develop healthy habits at a young age. — From the USDA blog

A Framework for Productive Aging and Work

The aging of the U.S. population has led to a number of changes in the workforce, particularly a movement of the worker distribution toward older ages2, 4. By 2022, about one-third (31.9%) of Americans aged 65 to 74 years will still be working (Toosi 2013). The impact of a longer working life can be significant in both positive and negative ways. On the positive side, work is the main means of income for consumption and savings, serves an anchoring function in society, and can be a source of dignity, social connectedness, and purpose. Negative consequences of working longer may include increased morbidity and mortality from injuries, longer recovery times, burnout, job lock (needing to stay employed to retain health insurance and benefits), age discrimination, job insecurity, periods of unwanted unemployment, and less non-work time (Schulte et al. 2018). — From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) NIOSH Science blog

Consumer Genetic Testing Is Booming: But What are the Benefits and Harms to Individuals and Populations?

The first genetic tests directly available to consumers for health were offered in 1996. The concept, then, was both audacious and bold: the idea that individuals could explore their own human genome without the aid of a health care provider to order the test or interpret the results.

Some consumer advocates praised the development as empowering, while many medical and public health experts advised caution, given the lack of evidence that results were clinically useful and that the risk for potential harms was unknown. Meanwhile, the direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic health test industry grew relatively slowly during the first two decades of its existence. During that time, personal genomics for any purpose was often perceived as a mere curiosity purchased by only a few wealthy individuals. — From the CDC’s Genomics and Health Impact blog

DHEC in the News: Free colon cancer screenings, Charleston floodwaters, bird rookery study

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

South Carolina program provides free colon cancer screenings for uninsured

One group is trying to prevent deaths in South Carolina from the second leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women in the nation.

The Center for Colon Cancer Research (CCCR) at the University of South Carolina offers free screenings for those who are uninsured and medically uninsured, and Tracie Lewis said it helps save lives.

“Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable diseases through early detection,” said Lewis, CCCR community outreach director. “We know through screening we can detect and prevent colorectal cancer or diagnosis it early.”

Filthy Floods – Charleston floodwaters are crawling with unsafe levels of poop bacteria

Many downtown Charleston streets become filthy Petri-dishes of bacteria in flooding rains, with fecal levels dozens of times above safe limits, according to a Post and Courier analysis and research by College of Charleston.

During the drenching rainstorm June 8, the newspaper sampled eight streets on peninsular Charleston for fecal coliforms, a common measure of human and animal waste. Targeted areas included streets near schools, stores and hospitals.

Analyzed immediately by Trident Labs in Ladson, a certified lab, these samples showed dangerously high levels of fecal bacteria on Charleston’s East Side.

General Interest
Charleston Harbor bird rookery to be studied for silting Shem Creek

The shifting sands of Crab Bank won’t stand still, and neither will the town of Mount Pleasant.

The town will commit as much as $100,000 to study whether the renourishment sand that washes from the shore bird rookery in Charleston Harbor would block the mouth of nearby Shem Creek — the town’s valuable commercial fishing hub, tourist destination and restaurant row.

DHEC in the News: HIV prevention, swimming advisory, vaccines

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

North Charleston HIV prevention group is reaching at-risk with free testing

A North Charleston HIV testing group recently began driving a van filled with blood tests, condoms and literature to a homeless shelter, a gay bar and local churches.

Despite the difference in these settings, the recently rebranded Palmetto Community Care is targeting each of the populations at these locations by offering HIV and hepatitis C tests outside the clinic’s walls.

Temporary swimming advisory issued in Myrtle Beach, DHEC says

Some sections of the beach in Myrtle Beach have been placed under a swimming advisory after high levels of bacteria were detected, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported.

General Interest
Opting out of vaccines leaves these US ‘hot spots’ most vulnerable for outbreaks

(CNN)A number of American states and metropolitan “hot spots” are vulnerable to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease, new research suggests. The reason? Children whose parents opted out of vaccination.

The risk of outbreaks is rising in 12 of the 18 states that permit nonmedical exemptions from childhood vaccinations, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS Medicine. Those states are Arkansas, Arizona, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah.