Category Archives: Technology

DHEC and Grand Strand partners launch CheckMyBeach.com

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has been working with various partners along the Grand Strand to develop an easy and informative way to provide beach swimming safety updates to beachgoers. This collaboration has led to the development of CheckMyBeach.com, a website for looking up helpful information like ocean water quality, swimming advisories, rip currents and more.

CheckMyBeach.com offers information about DHEC’s Beach Monitoring Program, which includes the weekly monitoring of fecal indicator bacteria, specifically Enterococcus, along South Carolina’s coast. If high levels of these bacteria are detected, which usually happens after heavy rains wash contaminants into the ocean, a short-term swimming advisory is issued for that particular spot – but the entire beach is not affected. CheckMyBeach.com links to DHEC’s information on current ocean water sampling results and swimming advisories, and it also provides localized news and updates about Grand Strand area beaches.

DHEC and its partners are excited for the new ways CheckMyBeach.com will keep residents and visitors updated about their favorite beaches. We’re working to spread the word about this new resource in the Grand Strand for the summer of 2020 (Phase I) and looking to expand that effort with new partners to promote CheckMyBeach.com for all of South Carolina’s beaches the following summer (Phase II). In addition to promotion through local media, hospitality and tourism groups, social media and signage at beach access point points, CheckMyBeach.com is the focus of four community “roadshows” in March to help inform the public of this great new information tool. Please see the details below – we hope you can attend!

NOTE: The event on Wednesday, March 18, is available only via YouTube, available following the event at https://www.youtube.com/user/SCDHEC. All future previously-scheduled CheckMyBeach.com roadshow events have been postponed.

Wednesday, March 4
5 p.m.-7 p.m.
North Myrtle Beach City Hall (1018 Second Ave S., North Myrtle Beach)

Wednesday, March 11
5 p.m.-7 p.m.
Myrtle Beach Train Depot (851 Broadway St., Myrtle Beach)

Wednesday, March 18
Virtual CheckMyBeach.com Presentation
12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.
Video available on YouTube following the event

Monday, March 30 The final CheckMyBeach.com event has been postponed.
5 p.m.-7 p.m.
Surfside Beach Council Chambers (1115 U.S. Highway 17, North Surfside Beach)

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.”

From Other Blogs: Health care workers and flu, child nutrition, radon & more

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

Healthcare Personnel Working with Flu-like Illness

Most of the United States is experiencing widespread and intense influenza activity. Indicators used to track influenza-like-activity are higher than what was seen during the peak of the 2014-2015 season, the most recent season characterized as being of “high” severity. A NIOSH study recently published in the American Journal of Infection Control found that more than 40 percent of health care personnel with influenza-like-illness (ie, fever and cough or sore throat) continued to work while sick during the 2014-2015 influenza season. — From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) NOSH Science Blog

Child Nutrition Goes Digital: Food and Nutrition Service Launches First Food Buying Guide Mobile App

The start of a new year is a perfect opportunity to assess your normal ways of doing business and adopt resolutions that will help you save time, money, or even frustration. Child nutrition program operators can now resolve to do just that with the launch of Food and Nutrition Services’ first mobile application, the Food Buying Guide (FBG) Mobile App.

The FBG Mobile App represents a major step forward in the agency’s commitment to customer service, providing key information at the fingertips of child nutrition program operators so they can serve wholesome, nutritious, and tasty meals to our nation’s children. — From the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) blog

Radon: We Track That!

CDC’s Tracking Network connects people with vital information on a variety of health and environmental topics. You can use data and information collected about radon to help determine individual and community risk for radon and inform community interventions.  — From the CDC’s Your Health — Your Environment Blog

Progress in Public Health Genomics Depends on Measuring Population Level Outcomes

Public health genomics is a relatively young field concerned with the effective and responsible translation of genomic science into population health benefits. In the past few years, the field has witnessed the emergence of several state public health genomics programs beyond the traditional domain of newborn screening. The field has focused on preventing disease and death from three tier 1 autosomal dominant conditions, collectively affecting more than 2 million people in the United States (Lynch syndrome, hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, and familial hypercholesterolemia). — From the CDC’s Genomics and Health Impact blog

DHEC in the News: Flu, radon, stomach virus

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

What To Do About The Flu?

The flu is making its annual presence known – and, as medical professionals warn, that’s nothing to sneeze at. Daniel Island, like many communities across the South Carolina and the nation, is not immune to the impacts of the pesky bug, which can bring fever, fatigue, stomach upset, congestion and other symptoms to those who catch it.

DHEC reports 22 more flu deaths, bringing total this season to 46 in South Carolina

The state health department reported Wednesday that another 22 South Carolinians have died from the flu this season and that hundreds more were recently hospitalized.

Numbers included in the new report offer clear evidence that flu activity has been widespread and rampant across the state this month. And it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Seventeen of the latest flu-related deaths occurred between Jan. 14 and Jan. 20, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported. Five of those deaths were attributed to prior weeks. Since October, 46 people have died from the flu in this state.

Doctor: ‘This is actually the worst flu season we’ve seen in over 10 years’

Horry County, S.C. (WPDE) — The flu continues to be a problem, causing people to call out of work and school across the country.

It’s been a nasty flu season, with more than 40 thousand confirmed cases in South Carolina so far, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

“This is actually the worst flu season in over 10 years,” Dr. Dennis Rhoades, the Regional Medical Director for Doctors Care said.

Radon test heads off silent killer

The new year brings a focus on good health and progress. Nowhere is emphasis more important than the home, where so many spend so much of their time.

Your home, however, may be causing you harm and you don’t even know it.

The No. 2 cause of lung cancer in the United States is radon gas. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that radon causes more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths every year. The World Health Organization states that as many as 14 percent of the lung cancer cases in many countries are caused by exposure to radon.

177 students, 21 teachers out of Anderson Co. school due to stomach virus

ANDERSON, SC (FOX Carolina) – Anderson County District Five Schools say 177 students and 21 teachers were out of school due to a stomach virus.

A representative with the school district said a gastrointestinal illness was going around Calhoun Academy of the Arts.

Morning News: Smart Mosquito Traps, Flu in Orangeburg, Boil Water Advisory, Random Acts of Kindness

News for February 17:

The high number of flu cases across South Carolina has led to visitation restrictions at the Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg County:

Testament to how widespread the flu is comes from none other than the hospital. The Regional Medical Center has restricted patient visitation temporarily because of influenza.

“We have seen an increase in the number of flu cases as the season has progressed,” RMC Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. John Samies said Wednesday. “To protect our patients and their families, we have closed the doors to all inpatient units and have restricted visitation to immediate family members over the age of 12 only. Children under the age of 12 will not be permitted to enter any of the inpatient units.”

Remember, it’s not too late to get a flu shot. Find a clinic near you.

A boil water advisory has been issued for Valley Public Service Authority Water System customers:

General Manager Calvin Smith advises the customers of the water system residing on Pinegrove Road, Old Chavous Road, Bailey Drive, Sapp Drive, Divine Drive, Pepper Branch Road, Scottsville Road, C.C. Camp Road, Storm Court and a portion of Storm Branch Road that the water service has been interrupted for emergency repairs due to an unforeseen waterline break on Thursday.

Find information on what to do in a boil water emergency here.

Have we found new high-tech way to fight mosquitoes? Microsoft is testing a “smart trap” to do just that:

A smart trap for mosquitoes? A new high-tech version is promising to catch the bloodsuckers while letting friendlier insects escape – and even record the exact weather conditions when different species emerge to bite.

Whether it really could improve public health is still to be determined. But when the robotic traps were pilot-tested around Houston last summer, they accurately captured particular mosquito species – those capable of spreading the Zika virus and certain other diseases – that health officials wanted to track, researchers reported Thursday.

It’s Random Acts of Kindness Day! Use this “kindness generator” for ideas on doing something great!