Category Archives: Chronic Disease

DHEC Works to Continue to Control and Eliminate Tuberculosis (TB)

When Dr. Robert Koch announced in 1882 his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes tuberculosis (TB), it marked a critical turning point in the fight against the disease. It’s a fight that DHEC’s TB Control Division and its partners continue in South Carolina today.  

In recent years, the push to control TB across the globe had been making positive strides until 2020 when there was what many hope will turn out to be simply a brief setback.  

“For the first time in over a decade, TB deaths increased in 2020. The theme of World TB Day 2022 – ‘Invest to End TB. Save Lives.’ – conveys the urgent need to invest resources to ramp up the fight against TB and achieve the commitment to end TB made by global leaders.” 

– Pan American Health Organization; World Health Organization, 2022 

March 24 is World TB Day, and DHEC’s TB Control Division will celebrate it on Friday March 25, 2022. We will join local, state, national, and global public health officials, and partners in recognizing Dr. Koch’s efforts as well as that of people across the world who have worked to control and eliminate TB. 

Click here to learn more about our work with partners to fight this illness. 

About TB 

Tuberculosis is a disease of the lungs that can be spread by coughing, sneezing, or speaking. It is treatable and preventable. We all can play an important role in eliminating tuberculosis in our community by understanding the signs and symptoms and helping to educate others.   

The signs and symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected, but the general signs and symptoms of TB disease include:  

  • feelings of sickness or weakness,  
  • weight loss,  
  • fever,  
  • night sweats, 
  • chest pain, 
  • coughing, and 
  • coughing up blood.  

Click here for a short video on one person’s story related to TB. 

DHEC’s Terri McCollister Works To Draw Attention To Rabies Prevention

Each spring, DHEC works to promote rabies clinics across South Carolina and raise awareness about rabies prevention. Terri McCollister, Rabies Prevention Program Team Lead, has been doing her part to promote rabies safety and vaccination at events across the state.

CarolinasUNITE Animal Welfare Professionals Conference

Terri was invited to speak on behalf of DHEC at the CarolinasUNITE Animal Welfare Professionals Conference, held February 28- March 4 in Myrtle Beach. CarolinasUNITE is a collaboration between the North Carolina Animal Federation and the South Carolina Animal Care and Control Association, aiming to bring together animal welfare professionals from both states for education and networking. This is her second time speaking at this conference.

Terri focused on bats and educating conference attendees on the potential rabies exposure risks involved during a bat encounter. She encouraged attendees to not release a bat after an encounter and to contact DHEC and directed them to the DHEC Bat webpage.

Partnering with the Humane Society

When Terri learned the Humane Society of the United States and Pets for Life program had partnered with Chewy, an online pet product retailer, to provide food and supplies to owner-support programs across the United States, she worked to get DHEC and South Carolina involved.

Terri worked with DHEC’s Communications Team and the SC Humane Society to promote low-cost rabies vaccination events on the agency’s social media outlets as part of DHEC’s promotion of spring and year-round low-cost clinics.

Low-cost rabies vaccine events are held in rural and underserved areas, and when people have their pets vaccinated at an event through the Chewy incentive program, they receive free goods. The Chewy program is a new approach, and Terri is very excited about the positive impacts this program can have in South Carolina.

Additionally, Terri participated in a low-cost rabies vaccination clinic event with the Columbia Humane Society on Saturday, March 12.

She assisted with directing traffic, handing out DHEC rabies fact sheets and pet questionnaires provided by the event host, and answering questions related to rabies prevention. The staff with the Columbia Humane Society provided helpful feedback to her noting that they received hundreds of calls about the event almost immediately after DHEC posted the event flyer.

The veterinary team assisting the Columbia Humane Society reported that over 180 pets were administered a rabies vaccination during the event.

Congratulations to Terri and the Rabies Prevention Program for the work they continue to do for our state!

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

#NLPPW21: DHEC works to prevent lead poisoning; Governor’s Proclamation

Nationally, October 24-30 marks Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, and locally, SC Gov. Henry McMaster proclaimed this week Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.

About 3.6 million American households have children under 6 years of age who live in homes with lead exposure hazards, according to HUD, and each year, more than 300 children are diagnosed with lead poisoning in the South Carolina. Lead exposure is especially dangerous to developing children and can lead to brain damage, learning disabilities, developmental delay, and behavioral and attention problems.

To learn more about Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, click here.

To learn more about the dangers of lead, click here or call the toll-free number 1-866-466-5323.

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DHEC Celebrates National Assisted Living Week

National Assisted Living Week, observed September 12-18, is held to recognize the hard work, compassion and care involved in operating assisted living facilities and the residents they serve.

An Assisted Living Facility (ALF) is also known as a Community Residential Care Facility (CRCF) in South Carolina. There are currently 480 licensed CRCFs in the state.

“Compassion, Community, Caring” is this year’s theme for National Assisted Living Week. The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for CRCFs, but DHEC has continuously aided the facilities despite the many changes that have occurred during the pandemic.

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