DHEC in the News: Opioids, drug take back day, flu & more

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

Opioid crisis continues to hit Greenville County

Charles Cureton describes himself as a lifelong heroin addict.

The 69-year-old has overdosed on the drug several times throughout the years. Each time, including last month, he survived.

“It just ain’t my time,” the Greenville resident said.

Each year, hundreds of people in South Carolina die from opioid-related overdoses. The crisis has reached the point that the deaths may surpass traffic fatalities when the statistics are released this year.

Conway Police helps host drug take back event

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Conway Police partnered with Shoreline Behavioral Health Services and Horry County CAST Coalition for a prescription drug tack back day, Saturday.

General Interest

Flu season is not over yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions

The number of people sick with flu has continued to decrease across the nation, but experts warn that the season is not over yet. New York City and 21 states continued to experience high activity of flu-like illness during the week ending March 3, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday in its weekly surveillance report.

Looking at the data for recent weeks, CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said, “we’re still continuing to see a decline in influenza-like activity. Even though It looks like all signs point to decreasing influenza activity, we’re still in what we normally think of as flu season.”

Controlled burns benefit our forests

The weather in South Carolina in March can be characterized as crisp, cool and perfect for a controlled burn. That’s why it’s fitting that Gov. Henry McMaster has proclaimed March 2018 Prescribed Fire Awareness Month.

Prescribed burning is a very important management tool here in the Southeastern U.S. It is a necessary tool for both managers of forests and crop fields.

DHEC in the News: Flu, opioids, coastal floods

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

Has the flu loosened its grip in SC? Here’s what the numbers say

It seems the worst has finally passed in regard to flu activity in South Carolina.

Widespread in the Palmetto State for the past 10 weeks, S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control officials now believe the illness is present only on a regional basis.

Opioid prescribing limits to be imposed in South Carolina

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – The South Carolina Medicaid Agency and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina will limit how many opioids doctors can prescribe to patients in some cases.

This comes after Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order in December establishing an emergency response team to battle the opioid crisis in South Carolina.

General Interest

Coastal floods to be nearly as common as high tides in South Carolina within 80 years, NOAA says

Tidal flooding is accelerating along the South Carolina coast, including at Charleston, federal researchers say. The coast might flood nearly every day by the turn of the century almost 80 years from now.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report is the latest in a series of alerts which forecast worsening conditions for South Carolina and the East Coast as seas and storm-surge rise.

From Other Blogs: National School Breakfast Week, lowering your cancer risk, tackling eHealth literacy & more

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

A Healthy Start to the School Day Leads to Bright Opportunities Ahead

Wholesome meals at school support educational achievement – and bright SchoolBreakfast-launch 2opportunities ahead for our nation’s kids and teens. Which is why, each year, during National School Breakfast Week (March 5-9), USDA recognizes the importance of a healthy start and the many ways the School Breakfast Program improves the health and nutrition of school children nationwide. — From the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) blog

Lowering Your Cancer Risk: A Matter of Ups and Downs

Think of listening to your favorite song. No matter what kind of music it is, someone was behind the scenes making it sound great: bringing out certain parts or instruments, balancing it, getting rid of background noise.

Cutting your cancer risk is a little bit like making great music. You turn some things up, turn some things down, and get rid of some things altogether. And you don’t have to be a professional to make choices that can help keep you doing what you love for a long time. — From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) The Topic Is Cancer blog

Prevent Colorectal Cancer: We Can Do It!

“A childhood friend has late-stage colon cancer. The prognosis is grim. But this is one cancer you can prevent,” writes Cindy Gelb, lead of CDC’s Screen for Life campaign. “One more late-stage diagnosis is one too many. Each of us really can make a difference.” — From the CDC’s The Topic Is Cancer blog

Tackling eHealth Literacy

As I waited in the exam room on a recent visit to my doctor’s office, I noticed there was a large wall display with an interactive screen. It resembled a smartphone and I could use the touchscreen to scroll and learn about various conditions, diabetesheart diseaseAlzheimer’s, and colon health. Each menu included signs and symptoms of illness, and information on diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. The designs were bright, jargon was kept to a minimum and defined when used, and navigating was simple for routine smartphone users. The display also included short videos supporting the on-screen text.

“Great!” I thought, “But what about patients who don’t have strong English skills or those who don’t feel confident engaging with the display? How do they get the information if they don’t directly ask for it?” — From the CDC’s Public Health Matters blog

2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: We Want to Hear from You

Interested in being part of our process as we develop the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA)? Start today at DietaryGuidelines.gov. — From the USDA blog

Keeping watch over flu activity is critical to limiting its damage

Flu seasons such as the one South Carolina and the nation have been enduring reminds us why it is so important to monitor flu activity.

Severe flu seasons can be devastating, and even milder influenza seasons cause missed work and school time, hospitalizations and deaths.

Keeping an eye on diseases

Each year, DHEC and U.S. public health experts monitor influenza and other diseases. This activity is called disease surveillance.

Surveillance of influenza plays a big role in understanding the spread of the disease, as well as the severity of potential epidemics. Although surveillance can tell us the trend of influenza illness in South Carolina, it cannot tell us exactly how many cases of flu there are in the state.  This is because not everyone who gets the flu goes to the doctor to get tested, and we have no way of monitoring unreported cases of flu.

Flu surveillance allows DHEC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to see what impact flu is having on the health of residents. In South Carolina, influenza surveillance consists of several components. Each component provides different types of information about influenza; together, they create a solid overview of influenza activity in the state.

The benefits of surveillance

Surveillance helps us to:

  • Understand which new flu viruses are circulating in South Carolina (The types of influenza virus that infect people often change from one flu season to the next.);
  • Establish when the influenza virus first appears in the state and also when it decreases;
  • Determine where in the state the influenza virus is circulating; and
  • Understand what types of vaccines are most likely to succeed the following year.

DHEC produces a weekly summary of reported influenza activity in South Carolina in a report called Flu Watch. Visit the DHEC website for more information and the latest update of Flu Watch. Also, visit the CDC’s website for national statistics on flu.

Protect yourself

DHEC and CDC recommend that everyone 6 months and older get the flu vaccine, because it is the best way to combat the flu. It is also important to take other preventive actions, such as limiting contact with sick people and washing your hands frequently.

DHEC in the News: Flu, opioids

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

Flu activity no longer widespread in South Carolina after difficult season that has killed 201

Flu activity in South Carolina is considered to be regional, not widespread, for the first time since the flu began sweeping the state in the beginning of the year, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Wednesday.

Though influenza has been on the decline for a few weeks after a difficult season, the first week of March saw only 2,192 confirmed cases.

There were almost three times that amount the week before, with 6,332 cases.

DHEC report shows flu is slowing down in SC after 200 deaths

Over the course of what’s been an especially difficult flu season, there have been more than 200 deaths in South Carolina.

But a new flu report shows the flu is slowing down in our state.

ODPS preparing for opioids; city officers training to use Narcan

The Orangeburg Department of Public Safety is preparing its officers for the growing opioid problem, Chief Mike Adams said Tuesday.

“Drug overdose is currently the leading cause of accidental death in the United States with 62,497 lethal drug overdoses in 2016 for an average of one every eight and a half minutes,” Adams said.

“It took a while to get here to Orangeburg, but it’s here,” he said.