Author Archives: SC DHEC

Public Health Thank You Day; a message from DHEC Public Health Director Dr. Brannon Traxler

Public Health Thank You Day is celebrated the Monday before Thanksgiving every year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought newfound attention to the importance of public health and the debt of gratitude we owe to all our public health professionals. We thank you for all you do under even the most trying of circumstances to protect and improve the health of all communities. 

Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Public Health Director, wrote a message for all DHEC public health staff to recognize them today. Read her message below:

Dear Team DHEC, 

Today is Public Health Thank You Day, and I wanted to thank each one of you for your contributions to our shared vision of healthy people living in healthy communities.

Whether involved in COVID-19 activities or keeping our many public services and operations running smoothly, you have made a positive difference in the lives and health of South Carolina residents this year.  

Thanks to you: 

  • We have ordered and distributed COVID-19 vaccines so that more than 5.1 million doses were administered in South Carolina. 
  • Over the past 12 months, there have been 495,865 client visits (excluding COVID-19 appointments) conducted by our health department staff across the state. 
  • DHEC successfully became an Accredited Public Health Agency in February 2021. 
  • The Health Care Associated Infection Team rolled out Project Firstline, a new infection prevention training program for staff across all disciplines and all types of healthcare facilities in South Carolina.  
  • Healthcare Quality’s merging of state licensing and federal Medicare certification oversight, training, and inspections will help better streamline resources necessary to ensure healthcare facilities comply with health and safety standards, ultimately benefitting the public health of the residents of South Carolina 
  • The lab’s Analytical Chemistry team, in partnership with 29 hospitals across the state, expanded testing for opioid surveillance and has been identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a model for other state laboratories participating in opioid surveillance.
  • Public health team members, the public health state veterinarian, rabies program team members, and Division of Acute Disease and Epidemiology on-call physicians collaborated with the CDC rabies program to develop a survey questionnaire in response to multiple cases of people overnighting with bats at rental properties. The questionnaire has since been the template for potential bat exposure situations in other states.
  • The Bureau of Drug Control’s Prescription Monitoring Program continues to be instrumental in addressing the opioid crisis. Since December 2020, South Carolina Reporting and Identification Prescription Tracking System (SCRIPTS) users can access data from 44 other state Prescription Monitoring Programs, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Military Health System. Data shows a correlation between the increased number of providers utilizing PMP and the decrease in the total number of controlled substance prescriptions.  
  • The STD, HIV, and Viral Hepatitis Division ensured a statewide network of community-based organizations provided services for over 10,000 people living with HIV/AIDS by offering testing, established standards of care, and supportive services.   
  • Improved the process for practicing veterinarians to report their yearly rabies vaccination numbers as required per the Rabies Control Act. The improved communication has allowed for the rabies program to send over 350 surveys to our veterinary stakeholder partners statewide to help clarify required procedures as detailed in the Act. 

These are just a few highlights from your amazing dedication this year.  

Thank you so much for all you have done, are doing, and will continue to do to contribute to a healthy society. 

I am incredibly proud to be part of this team. 

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving! 

Brannon 

L. Brannon Traxler, MD, MPH

Public Health Director

Don’t Waste Food SC Provides Thanksgiving Tips 

Thanksgiving is typically a holiday of overabundance, but that doesn’t mean you have to waste food.  Here are some tips from your friends at Don’t Waste Food SC to make sure you don’t throw away any of your feast this year.  

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DHEC raises awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease on Light the World In Teal Day

Light the World in Teal is an annual observance held on Nov. 4. which highlights November as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Members of DHEC’s Healthcare Quality staff wore teal Thursday, Nov. 4, to recognize Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.  

Teal is the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s awareness color. Persons around the world wear teal, and buildings and structures light up in teal to participate in the observance. 

Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately 95,000 South Carolinians are currently living with Alzheimer’s, according to the 2021 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures Report. 

DHEC recognizes Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and encourages the public to learn more information about Alzheimer’s disease. You can do so by clicking here.

DHEC Celebrates One Health Day Showing the Health of Humans, Animals, and the Environment Connect

Over time, it has become more and more clear that the health of people is connected to the health of animals and the environment. The acknowledgment of that relationship is known as One Health. 

Each November 3, human, animal and environmental health experts, like those at DHEC and elsewhere, join communities around the world to bring awareness to this important concept. The idea is to promote the best health for all people, animals, and the environment. 

It is critical to address shared health threats at the place where humans, animals, and the environment intersect. One Health involves health experts of all types and on all levels — local, regional, national, and global levels — working on the goal of achieving optimal health outcomes through the recognition of the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment. 

There are lots of examples of how the health of people is related to the health of animals and the environment. Here are just a couple:  
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  • Zoonotic diseases: Zoonotic diseases are conditions that can be spread between people and animals. According to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC), more than half of all infections people can get are zoonotic diseases. These conditions include the likes of rabies, Salmonella, and West Nile virus. 
  • Food Safety: Food safety is important to prevent people (and animals) from becoming sick after eating food or drinks that contain harmful germs or environmental toxins. CDC estimates that each year 1 in 6 Americans get sick from contaminated food or drinks. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that foodborne illnesses cost the United States more than $15.6 billion each year. 

These examples show that wide-ranging partnerships that include trained staff with backgrounds in human public health, agriculture, veterinary medicine, food safety, disease ecology, and more are needed to respond appropriately to One Health challenges. This includes the historic COVID-19 pandemic, which has placed a significant spotlight (and challenge) on One Health because it has demanded rapid, innovative, collaborative approaches to respond to and limit as much as possible its devastating impact. 

The CDC’s One Health Office focuses on this relationship between people, animals, and the environment. Staff at DHEC are involved in One Health activities every day. The One Health approach encourages experts such as disease detectives, laboratorians, physicians, and veterinarians to work together to improve the health of all — from people to pets to livestock to wildlife. 

Visit the CDC’s website to learn more about One Health and One Health Day. Also learn more about One Health by watching this video

Brush away the candy on National Brush Day, Nov. 1

National Brush Day is November 1, and it is the perfect time to remember and reinforce good brushing habits. The day comes after the biggest candy day of the year…Halloween! No need to fear because two minutes of tooth time, two times a day, can go a long way in preventing tooth decay and keeping mouths healthy.

“Results from the most recent Oral Health Needs Assessment show that there continues to be a need to focus on prevention that includes brushing teeth two times a day, cleaning between the teeth daily, drinking fluoridated water, limiting sugary foods and drinks and getting dental sealants,” said Dr. Ray Lala, the Division of Oral Health Director.

Who doesn’t like to indulge a little on Halloween candy? If you or your young ones trick or treated this year, there are a few helpful tips from the American Dental Association (ADA) that will help you have a mouth safe Halloween.

Helpful Halloween tips to protect your teeth:

  • Try to eat Halloween candy (and other sugary foods) with meals or shortly after mealtime. You produce more saliva during mealtime, and this helps rinse away food particles and works against the acid produced by bacteria in your mouth.
  • Limit snacking. Frequent snacking can increase your risk of cavities, especially if those snacks are sweet.
  • Be choosy about the candy you eat. Try to avoid sticky candy, hard candy, and other sweets that stick to your teeth and stay in your mouth for a long time. The longer a candy stays in the mouth the greater the risk of tooth decay. Chocolate washes off the teeth more easily, so it is a better candy choice but should still be limited.
  • Consider donating your extra candy. There are organizations that help you donate to the military and some dentists have candy take-back programs.
  • Make water your drink of choice and limit sugary beverages as much as possible. Drinking water with fluoride can help prevent tooth decay.

Observe National Brush Day by spreading the brushing message, buying a new toothbrush, and posting a pic of yourself brushing your teeth. Use #NationalBrushDay when posting on social media.

For questions or comments about oral health in South Carolina, email oralhealth@dhec.sc.gov.