Category Archives: Community Health

DHEC in the News: Safe sleep, WIC mobile unit, Great Falls whitewater site

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

DHEC provides tips on preventing SIDS and safer infant sleep

COLUMBIA, SC (FOX Carolina) – The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is warning parents about sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, and providing tips that can make a difference. In South Carolina, six infants die each month from unsafe sleep, DHEC said in a media release. Babies are at risk of sleep-related deaths until they are a year old.

Here are some tips for safer sleep, per DHEC:

  1. ALONE– Babies should sleep alone in their own safe sleep space such as a crib or bassinet with a firm, flat mattress. For the first year of life, baby should have a separate safe sleep space in the parent’s room.
  2. BACK– Always put your baby to sleep on his or her back, both for naps and at night. Placing babies on their backs to sleep is one of the most important ways to prevent SIDS.
  3. CRIB– Make sure that the crib or bassinet you’re using is safety approved by the Consumer Products Safety Commission and that the crib is bare. Remove all pillows, blankets soft toys, or bumpers.

SC DHEC debuts new mobile unit to help Upstate women & children

ANDERSON (AP/FOX Carolina) – A new mobile unit from SC DHEC is helping women make sure their children are getting the nutrients they need.

The van is for the department’s WIC program. WIC stands for woman, infant and children. It gives moms access to the proper nutrients for their children. Women have to qualify to become part of the program. To find out if you qualify, click here.

Duke Energy designs whitewater recreation site in Great Falls

GREAT FALLS, SC (WBTV) – Duke Energy is in the preliminary design phase of a recreational whitewater project. A spokesperson with Duke Energy says they have never done a project like this before.

According to Duke Energy and the Great Falls Hometown Association, the energy giant will construct two whitewater channels along the Catawba River near Fishing Creek Dam. The project will also include three kayaking and canoeing put-ins along a stretch of the Catawba River between the Fishing Creek Dam and just south of the Great Falls Dam.

Spring rabies vaccination clinics: The perfect opportunity to protect your pets

Veterinarians across South Carolina are joining forces with DHEC this spring to help owners protect themselves, families, communities, and pets against rabies.

As required by state law, all pet owners must vaccinate their dogs, cats, and ferrets.

“Participating veterinarians will vaccinate dogs, cats, and ferrets during the spring clinics,” said David Vaughan, director of DHEC’s Division of Onsite Wastewater, Rabies Prevention, and Enforcement. “Rabies vaccination fees may vary by clinic site.”

Local veterinarians offer vaccines year-round, but the spring clinics help raise awareness about rabies while providing convenience to pet owners. The support from local veterinarians during the spring clinics provides a valuable public service to our citizens.

While not required by state law, DHEC strongly recommends that owners vaccinate all horses, any livestock that has frequent contact with humans, any livestock that is particularly valuable, or animals used for raw milk or raw milk product production.

Hundreds of South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year due to exposure to a rabid or suspected rabid animal. Although the cost varies, post-exposure treatment typically exceeds $8,000 per person.

“Rabies is a threat to pets, livestock, wild animals, and humans. Pet owners must stay vigilant and keep their pets’ vaccinations up-to-date,” said Vaughan. Keeping your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can protect yourself, your family, and your pets from this fatal disease.

In 2017, there were 63 positive cases of rabies confirmed in animals across the state, including 29 raccoons, 13 skunks, 6 foxes, 6 cats, 4 bats, 2 coyotes, 1 dog, 1 goat, and 1 groundhog. In total, 26 of South Carolina’s 46 counties had a laboratory-confirmed positive rabies case last year. Positive rabies cases have been reported in every county in our state since the statewide program began.

Spring clinic dates, times, and locations can be found on DHEC’s website at www.scdhec.gov/Rabies/Clinics.

Help us in the fight to end the spread of rabies in South Carolina! #RabiesClinics

Mother and baby benefit greatly from breastfeeding

By Ellen B. Babb, PhD, MPH, RD, LD, CLC
WIC State Breastfeeding Coordinator
DHEC Division of WIC Services

Just how beneficial is breastfeeding for mothers and babies? Let us count the ways.

  • Human milk provides the ideal balance of nutrients for an infant’s growth and development.
  • Human milk is easy to digest and protects babies from diarrhea and other stomach issues.
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS, as well as infectious and chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
  • Breastfeeding saves money.
  • Breastfeeding provides a unique bonding experience for mother and baby.

Considering all those benefits — and there are more — is it any wonder that pediatricians and other health officials encourage mothers to breastfeed?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire.

World Breastfeeding Week

We cannot overstate the value of breastfeeding, which is why August 1 – 7 is set aside as World Breastfeeding Week. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) encourages all expectant and new mothers to know the facts about the important health benefits of breastfeeding.

In South Carolina, 73 percent of babies have been breastfed for some period of time, 13 percent are exclusively breastfed at six months, and 14 percent are breastfeeding in some capacity at 12 months. Among all WIC mothers in South Carolina, 24 percent of children under age 1 are being breastfed.

WIC Supports Breastfeeding Moms and Babies

Many times moms and babies need assistance to get the most out of breastfeeding. That’s where DHEC’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program comes in; we have supportive breastfeeding staff, which includes breastfeeding peer counselors, certified lactation counselors and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, ready to help.

WIC provides resources and services such as:

  • Breastfeeding education materials
  • Enhanced breastfeeding food packages
  • Breastfeeding support groups (Circle of Friends)
  • “How to Breastfeed” classes
  • Breast pumps and supplies

One of the best ways to get a good start breastfeeding after giving birth is to have your baby at a Baby-Friendly Hospital, where mothers are given optimum support to initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies safely. To view a listing of South Carolina hospitals that have received this designation, please click here.

The success rate among mothers who want to breastfeed can be greatly improved through active support from their families, friends, communities, clinicians, health care leaders and employers.

For more general information about breastfeeding, click here. For information about how WIC can help with breastfeeding, please click here.

DHEC in the News: Saluda River swim advisory, Mt. Pleasant water, Briarcliffe Acres

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around the state.

Saluda River bacteria levels decrease; advisory still in place
(Columbia, SC – WACH) The amount of bacteria in the Saluda River has decreased, but a swim advisory will remain in place until further notice.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control issued the advisory on Sunday night, a warning that should be taken seriously.

According to Robert Yanity from DHEC, a discharge from a nearby Carolina Water Services treatment plant caused bacteria levels to rise. A test yielded shocking results.

“They’re required to meet that 349 level I believe it is – as far as their E. coli marker and they were over that about 900 or so,” Yanity says.

The levels–980.4–are almost three times to state limit. Because of this, Yanity advises people to take caution before getting into the water.

Community Frustrated Over Swimming Advisory “Deja Vu”

The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is warning people not to swim in the water at Saluda Shoals Park after finding high levels of bacteria in that section of the Saluda River.

“We’ve got a lot of people that come out here, fishermen swimmers kayakers, we’re all concerned about the quality of our water,” said fisherman Michael Frank.

Bill Stangler, the Congaree Riverkeeper, says he was frustrated when he got the call about more bacteria polluting the river.

“Here we go again, deja vu,” Stangler said. “It’s really a bad place for this to be happening, I mean we’re standing between a canoe/kayak launch, a boat ramp, and another boat ramp across the river. This is where people come to get in the river.”

DHEC says they found “upset conditions” at the Carolina Water Service’s Friarsgate plant towards the end of last week that could have contributed to the bacteria. They also say there were other factors.

“We did see an abundance of rain, so that could have contributed to the higher levels of bacteria that was coming into the water so we can’t say it was all attributed to CWS,” said Robert Yanity with DHEC.

Yanity advises people not to ingest the water or go in with open wounds.

Water Quality Concerns Surrounding Pesticides and Cancer

(Mt. Pleasant, SC – Moultrie News) Approximately two weeks ago, a group of mothers expressed their concerns on social media regarding the number of young males in a general area of Mount Pleasant (Park West, Dunes West, and Rivertowne) who have been diagnosed with brain tumors. During social media conversations and interviews with media, some raised the question of water being a contributing factor. Following this, some residents purchased at-home water testing kits, and some interpreted their results as positive for pesticides.

After learning about customer concerns, Mount Pleasant Waterworks (MPW) addressed the media and invited customers to join in a conversation regarding MPW’s water quality. On Monday, July 10th, MPW held a community meeting to listen to and discuss concerns with customers. The media was invited to attend and MPW posted full video of this meeting on social media and our website.

Q. Does Mount Pleasant Waterworks test for pesticides?

Yes, both water sources are tested for pesticides. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control set testing guidelines and schedules for pesticides. Mount Pleasant Waterworks’ water sources include groundwater from the Middendorf Aquifer and surface water purchased from Charleston Water System (CWS). EPA and SCDHEC utilize historical testing data to determine the scheduling parameters for pesticides in each water source. Due to consistent non-detection in our groundwater source, DHEC tests for pesticides every three years. Due to regulations related to surface water, DHEC tests the purchased surface water on an annual basis.

Their waste polluted the ocean surf 6 years, now it’s costing them to flush the toilet

It’s been six years since property owners in Briarcliffe Acres were first warned their septic tanks were to blame for sporadically high fecal bacteria readings in the Atlantic Ocean surf.

It’s taken a water quality study, construction of a needed sewer system by neighboring Myrtle Beach and a years-long battle by Briarcliffe Acres’ officials to convince those homeowners to pay the steep sewer system fees and get rid of the septic tanks.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control has a a long-term swimming advisory posted at Briarcliffe Acres. The warning sign advises against swimming near swashes after heavy rains, when contamination is most likely.

There has been no indication whether state health officials will eliminate the long-term swimming advisory once all property owners are on the sewer system.

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DHEC in the News: HIV treatment, swim advisories, WIC in Orangeburg

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

Stigma preventing thousands with HIV from seeking treatment in SC

(Greenwood, SC – Index Journal) With modern treatment, HIV is no longer a death sentence, but McLendon said the shame surrounding the virus is more deadly than the disease itself. As of 2015, 18,340 people in South Carolina had been diagnosed with HIV, but about 6,235 of them had not received any form of treatment, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. [Elizabeth] McLendon said because many people live with the virus without knowing it or are never formally diagnosed, the number of people not receiving treatment is likely higher. Particularly in rural areas, such as Greenwood County — where there were about 82 people diagnosed with HIV as of 2014, according to AIDS VU — McLendon said the actual number of infected people is likely much larger.

Swim advisory issued for Saluda River because of sewage discharge

(Lexington County, SC – The State) An official swim advisory was issued Sunday, after water quality tests from portions of the Saluda River, near Saluda Shoals Park, showed high levels of bacteria, the Congaree Riverkeeper said Sunday.

The state standard for bacteria is 349, and the sample taken from the river Saturday registered 980.4, Congaree Riverkeeper Bill Stangler said. Such levels could make swimmers ill.

A wastewater discharge from the Friarsgate Wastewater Treatment facility late last week resulted in the increased bacteria level in the water, the riverkeeper said. State health officials had issued a caution to swimmers earlier in the weekend before a formal advisory was issued Sunday with results of water quality tests.

Sewage spill doesn’t stop summer fun at Catawba River

(Rock Hill, SC – The Herald) As of Saturday, Landsford Canal State Park, a popular recreational area in South Carolina about 45 miles south of Charlotte, had posted advisories against boating, wade fishing and swimming in the water, the Charlotte Observer reported. The advisories are posted at the entrance to the park as well as bathrooms and fence posts.

A notice was also posted at the Catawba Indian Nation landing, according to DHEC.

The department states: “DHEC has performed modeling which indicates that the spill should pass downstream of the Landsford Canal and Catawba Indian Reservation landings by Monday evening. Based on this information, we will be able to recommend removal of the notices Wednesday morning.”

An update on the Habersham boil water advisory

An advisory for Habersham residents to boil their water was lifted on Friday.

The precautionary advisory was issued on Thursday by the Beaufort Jasper Water and Sewer Authority and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, according to a BJWSA news release sent out late Friday afternoon. The groups announced on Friday that the latest water sample analyses showed the water in the area was free from bacteria and is safe to consume.

Head Start making impact; OCAB director seeking to enroll more children

(Orangeburg, SC – Times & Democrat) Head Start…participates in USDA’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative, which provides increased access to foods grown from local farmers.

“We applied for those funds to actually purchase fresh fruits and vegetables (from local farmers) to feed the kids. And it’s more to it than that. Children will learn that corn doesn’t come in a can, but they actually learn how food is grown. It helps the local economy, too,” Wright said, noting that children actually participate in food preparation by planting seeds and watching fruits and vegetables grow in their classrooms.

Stroman said the state Department of Health and Environmental Control has implemented a nutrition initiative within the Head Start program. Children are given nutrition lessons and activities, some of which are sent home to parents.

“We also have a certified dietician and nutritionist that approves all of our menus so that they are aligned with the USDA requirements and good healthy eating patterns,” she said.

Stroman said the Head Start program is also partnering with the state DHEC’s WIC (Women, Infants and Children) office to have mobile units come out to its sites to make sure parents’ WIC certifications stay up to date.