Tag Archives: CDC

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.

DHEC wants your child to have a healthy smile!

By Adrianna Bradley

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) wants parents to help their little ones brush up on oral health.

Although it’s preventable, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children. When left untreated, tooth decay can cause pain and infections that can lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing and learning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that children who have poor oral health tend to miss more school days and receive lower grades than children who don’t.

Good dental habits start at home

DHEC encourages parents to support good habits at home, such as brushing teeth twice a day and visiting the dentist regularly, so children can have healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime. DHEC’s Division of Oral Health collaborates with the S.C. Dental Association and the Columbia Marionette Theatre to support a traveling puppet show called “Flora and Floppy go to the Dentist.” The purpose of this interactive show is to teach children what they need to do to have healthy smiles.  Some of the key messages in the puppet show are brushing and flossing, going to the dentist, drinking water with fluoride, getting dental sealants, and eating healthy foods.

“The Flora and Floppy puppet show has been able to reach over 35,000 children in schools and Head Start centers across the state with a positive oral health message since it began in 2007,” said Dr. Ray LaLa, director of the Division of Oral Health at DHEC. “The ability to deliver key oral health messages in an entertaining way is an extremely effective way to reach young children and their families.”

Tooth decay a problem among children

Even though tooth decay has been on the decline for the past 30 years, it is still prevalent in children ages 6 to 19. South Carolina’s Oral Health Needs Assessment in 2012 showed a decline in untreated decay, but there is still work to be done, particularly in the more rural areas of the state. For example, over 40 percent of the students screened in 2012 showed they had some form of decay, either treated or untreated. Consistent preventive messages and public health interventions such as community water fluoridation can go a long way to improve the oral health status of children in South Carolina.

Steps to take to protect children’s dental health

Here are some useful tips for parents and caregivers to help protect their children from future dental issues.

  • Oral care begins with wiping out the mouths of infants with soft cloth even before the first tooth arrives.
  • Once teeth arrive, brush your child’s teeth with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day. Children under age 3 should use a smear of toothpaste, and children over age 3 should use a pea-sized amount.
  • Children should be supervised when brushing their teeth until age 6-8.little-girl-brushing
  • Children should visit the dentist regularly beginning at age 1.
  • Talk to your pediatrician, family doctor, nurse or dentist about putting fluoride varnish on your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears in the mouth.
  • Limit sugary snacks and drinks.
  • Talk to your child’s dentist about dental sealants. Sealants protect teeth from decay.
  • Have your child drink tap water that contains fluoride. If you have well water, you can contact your water utility company and request a copy of the utility’s most recent “Consumer Confidence Report.” This report provides information on the level of fluoride in your drinking (tap) water.

A healthy mouth is an important part of overall health. To learn more about Children’s Dental Health Month, please visit http://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/national-childrens-dental-health-month.

American Heart Month

By Tiffany A. Mack, MPH, CHES, CGW
SC PHASE Program Administrator
Division of Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity & School Health

February is not only the month of love in which we celebrate Valentine’s Day, it is also American Heart Month. Raising awareness about heart health is key to combating heart disease, which is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm), each year more than 600,000 Americans die of heart disease, which accounts for 1 in every 4 deaths in the country.

Why heart health?

The heart is one of the most vital organs of the human body.  This muscle pumps blood through the circulatory system and supplies nutrients and oxygen to the tissues of the body.  Damage to the heart through poor lifestyle habits such as smoking, physical inactivity and diets rich in sodium and saturated fats can cause the heart to not function properly and result in heart disease.

Adults who suffer from chronic conditions have a much higher risk of developing heart disease.  Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease than adults without diabetes; people with uncontrolled high blood pressure are three times more likely to die of heart disease; and people with high blood cholesterol have about twice the risk of developing heart disease than people with lower levels (source: DHEC Chronic Disease Epidemiology State of the Heart Fact Sheet, www.scdhec.gov/Library/ML-002149.pdf).

It is important to know that there are many ways heart disease can be prevented and treated to maintain a normal lifestyle, and prevent premature death and disability.

What is DHEC doing?

DHEC’s Division of Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity and School Health received funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to focus on preventing obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke in 15 of the 46 counties in South Carolina.  The division is partnering with medical practices to adopt and implement policies and protocols for the improvement of patient health outcomes related to high blood pressure.

What can you do?

One of the best ways to celebrate American Heart Month is to get involved.  Know your numbers. Get routine screenings by your primary care physician to include checking blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels.

  • Eat smart. Reduce your sodium intake, and adding more fruits and veggies to your diet.
  • Move more. Add just 10 minutes of moderate activity twice a day.
  • At work you can go for a walk, take the stairs and/or bring a healthy snack to share with your colleagues.
  • Encourage your family and friends to follow your lead by practicing healthier habits for life.

There are many partner organizations that are participating in American Heart Month by conducting awareness and outreach events.  The Heart2Heart Foundation  has been hosting a Statewide Screening Day initiative.  This event was created through a collaboration with the Governor’s Office and SC DHEC.  Please visit StatewideScreeningDay.com and share this with your friends so they can take advantage of these free screenings!

For the remaining days of American Heart Month — and beyond — commit to learning about what you can do to promote heart health and raise awareness about heart disease and heart disease prevention.

More Information:

If you would like more information regarding heart disease and heart healthy tips, visit the DHEC website (www.scdhec.gov/Health/DiseasesandConditions/HeartDiseaseStroke/HeartDisease/) the CDC website (cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm) or the American Heart Association website (heart.org/HEARTORG/).

CDC’s ‘Take 3 Actions’ Flu Message

If you haven’t gotten a flu vaccine this season, it’s not too late. Getting vaccinated annually is the No. 1 way to combat this contagious disease that can lead to hospitalization — and even death. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking three actions to protect against the flu:

1) Take time to get a flu vaccine.

DHEC and the CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine, which can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu.

It is especially important for high-risk persons to be vaccinated to reduce the risk of severe illness. People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with certain chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.

Vaccination also is important for health care workers and those who live with or care for high-risk people to keep from spreading flu to them.

2) Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.

  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you are sick, limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
  • If you are sick with flu symptoms, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs such as the flu.

3) Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. These drugs are different from antibiotics; they are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter.

Visit CDC’s website to find out more about the flu and the three actions it recommends to fight it.