Category Archives: Disease Control

Ready or Not Mosquitoes Are Coming!

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Being outdoors this summer can be great for exercising, cooking out, sunbathing, or doing some much-needed gardening.  Whatever activity you decide, understand that mosquitoes and other disease-carrying insects are outside with you.

South Carolina is home to at least 61 different species of mosquitoes.  They may carry viruses, such as dengue, zika, West Nile, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, La Crosse encephalitis, and malaria.

DHEC works in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor mosquito populations for diseases that can be spread to humans. Local governments also play a key role in protecting citizens through spraying and cleanup effortsClick here to find a listing of local mosquito control programs.

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The first and most important line of defense is for you to protect yourself and help to prevent mosquito bites.  Make sure to eliminate mosquito breeding areas, and use insect repellent when outside. The mosquitoes are coming, but they don’t have to ruin your summer.

Food Recall Alert: P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Meals Due to Potential Presence of Foreign Material

More than 2 million pounds of P.F. Chang’s frozen meals have been recalled.  ConAgra Foods has expanded a voluntary recall of P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Brand products due to the potential presence of small metal fragments (2-9mm) in the sugar used in the sauce. This voluntary action has been taken because of impacted sugar from a supplier.

Foodborne foreign objects that are not hard and sharp and less than or equal to 7mm in length may cause minor injuries such as temporary reflexive choking and irritation of the gastrointestinal system.

There have been no reports of adverse reactions or injuries due to consumption of these products to date.

An initial recall was issued on July 7, 2016 after a ConAgra employee observed metal fragments while dispensing sugar from a supplier for a P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Brand sauce ingredient. On July 14, 2016, ConAgra Foods was notified that the initial recall needed to be expanded to include additional P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Brand meals.

Products covered by this recall were distributed in the U.S.  No other ConAgra Foods are impacted by this recall and these products are not served in P.F. Chang’s restaurants. Meals in P.F. Chang’s restaurants are made fresh every day and in every restaurant.

Visit the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website for specific product names and information.

Consumers who have purchased these items are advised not to consume them and return them to the store where originally purchased. ConAgra Foods is cooperating with both the FDA and USDA on this recall and is working with customers to ensure the packages are removed from store shelves and are no longer distributed. Consumers with questions should call our Consumer Affairs hotline at 1-800-252-0634, open 9 am through 7 pm CDT, Monday through Friday.

Be Sun Safe: May is Skin Cancer Prevention Month

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Sundress and shorts season has officially begun.  Are you protected?  According to the 2018 South Carolina Health Assessment, melanoma of skin (skin cancer) is the 5th leading cause of new cancer cases in the state (see below).

Skin Cancer Table

Did you know that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States with nearly 5 million people treated each year?  Skin cancer is caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and other sources such as tanning beds.  Anyone can get skin cancer, but it can be cured if found and treated early.  Talk to your doctor if you notice any unusual moles or changes to your skin.

Whether you are taking a trip to the beach or doing some much-needed gardening, it is important to protect your skin from the sun.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours
  • Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears, and neck
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block UVA and UVB rays
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) or 15 or higher, and both UVA and UV protection
  • Avoid indoor tanning

Being in the sun does not have to be worrisome.  Just make sure you protect yourself. Visit the CDC for more fun safety tips and  follow their  hashtag #SunSafeSelfie for pictures of people all over the world who are taking action to protect themselves from the sun – and having fun while doing it!

Don’t Forget to Thank A Nurse This Week: National Nurses Week is May 6-12

Officially recognized in 1993, National Nurses Week was founded to celebrate nurses and their contributions to society as well as encourage more people to join the nursing profession.

Whenever there is someone in need of care, you can count on a nurse to show compassion in tending to their needs.  Nurses are critical in safeguarding individual and public health.

“We celebrate our DHEC nurses for protecting our communities one individual at a time,” said Rebecca Morrison, APRN, MSN, FNP-BC, director, Public Health Nursing.  “Nurses Week is a time to celebrate their dedication and commitment to Public Health nursing.”

CDC Nurse Photo JPG

DHEC nurses provide care for clients in several programs, including:  immunizations, sexually transmitted disease (STD) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing, tuberculosis, family planning, children’s health and more.  They are also in local schools and childcare centers.  For a full list of services we provide statewide, visit:   https://www.scdhec.gov/health/health-public-health-clinics/services-we-provide.

The nursing profession was founded to protect, promote, and improve health for all ages.  Take time this week to thank a nurse for all they do.

Clean Hands Count: 3 Hand Hygiene Myth Busters in Recognition of World Hand Hygiene Day

World Hand Hygiene Day is Sunday, May 5.  Even though it may seem trivial to review facts about hand-washing, there are many little known facts about proper hand sanitation.

Myth #1:  Soap and water is better than alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is more effective and less drying than soap and water.  Sanitizers reduce bacterial counts on hands and are effective against multidrug-resistant organisms.  Sanitizers generally cause less skin irritation than frequent use of soap and water as well.

Myth #2:  Alcohol-based hand sanitizers eventually cause antibiotic resistance.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers kill germs quickly and in a different way than antibiotics.  There is no change for the germs to adapt or develop resistance.

Handwashing CDC Photo

Myth 3:  The amount of product you use does not matter.

Use enough alcohol-based hand sanitizer to cover all surfaces of your hands.  Rub your hands together until they are dry.  Your hands should stay wet for around 20 seconds if you used the right amount.

Proper hand sanitation does not have to be difficult.  Using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is an efficient way to keep your hands healthy.  Remember public surfaces such as gas pumps handles, door knobs, money, and toilets may carry highly contaminated microbes.

For more information about hand hygiene visit:  https://www.cdc.gov/handhygiene/index.html