Tag Archives: CDC

Practice sun safety to help avoid skin cancer

As enjoyable as it is to have fun in the sun, it’s important to protect your skin in the midst of that good time.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Most cases of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes on its website that in order to lower your skin cancer risk, you should protect your skin from the sun and avoid indoor tanning.

Here are some safety tips the CDC recommends:

Check the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s UV Index before you spend time outdoors. Plan your sun protection accordingly, using these tips:

  • Seek shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Cover up with clothing to protect exposed skin.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears and neck.
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100 percent of UV rays as possible.
  • Use sunscreen with “broad spectrum protection” and a sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours and after swimming, sweating or toweling off.

A few facts about skin cancer

  • The sun’s UV rays can damage unprotected skin in as little as 15 minutes. That said, it can take as long as 12 hours for skin to show the full effect of sun exposure.
  • It’s not about the temperature. Even if it’s cool and cloudy, you still need protection from UV rays.
  • Tanned skin is damaged skin. Any change in the color of your skin after time outside—whether sunburn or suntan—indicates damage from UV rays.
  • Indoor tanning exposes users to both UVA and UVB rays, which damage the skin and can lead to cancer.
  • The most common sign of skin cancer is a change in your skin, such as a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in a mole.

Visit the CDC website to find more information on skin cancer awareness.

Be on the look out for ticks; they can spread diseases

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that tick-borne diseases are on the rise. Everyone should take steps to prevent the diseases, particularly during the spring, summer and early-fall, when ticks are most active.

May through July is when people get more tick bites and tick-borne diseases than any other time of year in the United States, the CDC says on its website. During this season, it’s important to protect yourself, your loved ones and your pets from ticks.

Ticks cause Lyme disease, other illnesses

Ticks could be in the areas where we live, work and play; infected ticks can carry diseases, such as Lyme disease.

Lyme disease, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. While the CDC says more than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported nationwide, it notes that studies suggest the actual number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease is more likely about 300,000. Typical symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and a skin rash. If left untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system. Patients treated with appropriate antibiotics, such as doxycycline or amoxicillin, in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely.

The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tick-borne diseases as well.
Concern has been raised about a potentially deadly tick-borne illness spreading across the country called the Powassan virus. It’s carried by the same tick that carries Lyme disease. Most cases have occurred in the Northeast and Great Lakes region.

Take steps to protect against ticks

Taking steps to protect yourself and your family from getting a tick bite is the best defense against Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. The CDC recommends that people:

  • Avoid areas with high grass and leaf litter; walk in the center of trails when hiking.
  • Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin.
  • Use products that contain permethrin to treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents or look for clothing pre-treated with permethrin.
  • Treat dogs for ticks, using tick collars, sprays, shampoos, etc. Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and accompanying diseases, and could bring ticks inside.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming inside to wash off and find ticks before they bite.

The value of immunizations for infants can’t be overstated

Immunizations save lives. There is no denying it: Vaccines have drastically reduced infant death and disability caused by preventable diseases.

Just consider some of the milestones shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age 2.
  • In the 1950s, nearly every child developed measles and, unfortunately, some even died from this serious disease. Many physicians today have never seen a case of the measles.
  • Among children born during 1994-2013, vaccination will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes. It also saves about $13.5 billion in direct costs.
  • The National Immunization Survey has consistently shown that childhood immunization rates for vaccines routinely recommended for children remain at or near record levels.

The importance of immunizations

Immunizations play a valuable role in protecting the health of not only our children, but families and communities. They not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

The success of vaccines in preventing disease can’t be overstated. Each year we pause to observe National Infant Immunization Week, which this year runs from April 22-29.  It is a time to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs in promoting healthy communities throughout the United States.  It is also a time to raise awareness about the importance of ensuring all children are fully protected from vaccine-preventable diseases through immunization.

Vaccine-preventable diseases still circulate in the United States and around the world, so continued vaccination is necessary to protect everyone from potential outbreaks. For example, measles is still common in many parts of the world, including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Africa, and travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the United States. It’s easy for measles to spread when it reaches communities in the United States — or anywhere else — where groups of people are unvaccinated.

The best way to protect against childhood diseases

Remember, giving babies the recommended immunizations by age 2 is the best way to protect them from serious diseases, like whooping cough and measles.  Talk to your health care provider about what vaccines are recommended for your child, and make sure you keep all immunization and well-child appointments.  For more information about how to protect your child with immunizations, visit http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/protecting-children/index.html.

Make getting vaccinations less stressful

Even though you know you are keeping her safe from diseases, it’s hard to see your child cry when she gets her shots. But you can take some steps to make the process less stressful.

The CDC suggests trying the following tips before, during and after shots:

For babies and younger children

  • Distract and comfort your child by cuddling, singing or talking softly.
  • Smile and make eye contact with your child. Let your child know that everything is OK.
  • Comfort your child with a favorite toy or book. A blanket that smells familiar will help your child feel more comfortable.
  • Hold your child firmly on your lap, whenever possible.

For older children and adolescents

  • Take deep breaths with your child to help “blow out” the pain.
  • Point out interesting things in the room to help create distractions.
  • Tell or read stories. Be sure to pack their favorite book!
  • Support your child if he or she cries. Never scold a child for not “being brave.”

National Kidney Month

It’s National Kidney Month. So, be kind to your kidneys.

The kidneys are hard-working organs that are vital to our health. While each is only about the size of a computer mouse, the kidneys filter all the blood in your body every 30 minutes in order to remove waste, toxins and excess fluids. They also help control blood pressure, stimulate production of red blood cells and keep your bones healthy.

You can protect your kidneys by controlling your blood pressure, staying physically active and losing weight, among other things. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more kidney-friendly tips and related information.

Those most at risk should get tested

It’s particularly important for those who have risk factors for kidney disease to ask their doctor about testing them to learn their kidney health. Each kidney is made up of millions of tiny filters that can become damaged over time by diabetes, high blood pressure or other causes, and stop working, a condition called chronic kidney disease.

The CDC notes that approximately 15 percent of US adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease, which, in its early stages, has no signs or symptoms. The CDC recommends getting tested if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or high cholesterol, or are age 50 or older. You also should get tested if you are from a family with a history of chronic kidney disease.

Early detection and treatment for kidney disease can help prevent additional health problems.

DHEC encourages South Carolinians to take precautions against Zika at home and abroad

As springtime approaches, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is urging residents to take precautions now at home or while traveling to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika.

Many South Carolinians are preparing for trips abroad, whether it be for spring break, mission trips or just vacations. Many of those destinations are warmer locations where mosquito populations are known to transmit Zika and other diseases. DHEC encourages all those travelers to do their part to prevent mosquito bites.

Take care when traveling to an area with active transmission

“When traveling to any country with active Zika transmission, travelers should proactively take steps to prevent mosquito bites, such as using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, and staying in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens,” said Linda Bell, M.D. and state epidemiologist. “Zika is actively spreading in several areas of the world, including countries and territories in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, the Pacific Islands and Cape Verde.”

Individuals planning to travel should consult a travel clinic or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website to see if they are traveling to an area with active Zika transmission. A complete list of countries and locations with active transmission can be found here: cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html.

There have been 61 travel-related cases of Zika virus reported in South Carolina since April 2016. However, there have been no cases caused by mosquitoes in the state. “To help ensure this remains the case, it is very important for travelers to take these necessary precautions,” continued Dr. Bell.

Take precautions on the home front too

With temperatures rising in South Carolina, action on the home front is also needed to help fight mosquitoes. Eliminating breeding grounds is the No. 1 way to reduce mosquito populations, and all individuals can do their part by simply tipping and tossing any container with standing water.

“Mosquitoes have the ability to spread illnesses other than Zika, such as West Nile virus, chikungunya, dengue and eastern equine encephalitis,” said Dr. Bell.

Most people infected with the Zika virus do not have any symptoms. When symptoms are present, the most common are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Oftentimes, symptoms of Zika infection can be mild, yet last as long as one week. Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other severe birth defects. The virus can also be passed through sex. The CDC recommends that all women who are pregnant should not travel to areas abroad where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

Learn more about prevention

For more information on steps that individuals can take to prevent mosquito bites and eliminate mosquito breeding grounds around their homes, visit www.scdhec.gov/mosquitoes. For more information on the Zika virus, visit www.scdhec.gov/zika.