Tag Archives: flu

Active flu season: A Case Study In How DHEC Works Year Round To Protect S.C.’s Health

By Lilian Peake, MD
Director, Public Health

The current flu season, one of the most active in recent years, has commanded the attention of our entire state and nation. And for good reason: The flu can be a serious threat. This contagious respiratory illness can cause mild to severe illness, with potentially serious complications resulting in hospitalization or death.dr-lilian-peake-dhec

That’s why it is so important to have a strong public health system not only working to prevent disease, but also monitoring the health and well-being of the people of South Carolina and responding as situations arise.

As South Carolina’s lead public health and environmental agency, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is responsible for protecting and promoting the health of our community. Our public health system must be well prepared to address a variety of health threats to our citizens. These threats may be infectious diseases, such as West Nile virus, whooping cough, and flu, or disasters, such as hurricanes. DHEC employs skilled public health and environmental control professionals who work every day to improve the health of South Carolinians and maintain readiness to respond to any public health threats to our community.

DHEC public health professionals work year round to provide education and surveillance to prepare for seasonal flu as well as the threat of pandemic flu. DHEC staff collaborate with other public health professionals, health care providers and community partners each year, both before and during flu season, to help our state better respond to flu, no matter how severe the season.

Prevention is the first place to start. Getting vaccinated is the best way South Carolinians can prevent the spread of influenza. Yearly vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. DHEC provides flu vaccination at its health clinics across the state, in schools, and in other community settings. Health care providers, pharmacies and others also provide flu shots. This season DHEC was a partner in a Palmetto Health initiative to provide flu vaccine clinics in churches in the Midlands.

DHEC shares prevention messages and other information on its website and through news releases, interviews, blog posts, social media and public service announcements. This helps keep the public up-to-date on the flu season and inform them of the important steps they can take to protect themselves, their families, and vulnerable members of their community.

Monitoring (or conducting surveillance) of influenza plays an important role in understanding the spread of the flu, the severity of the season and its impact on South Carolina.  It helps detect novel influenza strains, measure the effects of influenza, determine where the flu is spreading in the state and the nation, and identify unusual clustering of cases or outbreaks. Detecting flu early in the season provides more opportunity to encourage members of high-risk groups to get vaccinated before the virus becomes widespread.

Certain influenza data are required to be reported to DHEC to allow for monitoring, including confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths. These data are used to produce FluWatch, a weekly summary of influenza activity in South Carolina. Outbreaks of flu in schools, child care centers, health care facilities and elsewhere must also be reported, and DHEC provides guidance to help stop the spread of influenza.

DHEC also partners with hospitals to help respond to flu. During this year’s active season, hospitals across the state put their medical surge plans into operation to successfully handle the increased number of patients. Working with hospitals and the South Carolina Hospital Association, DHEC facilitated a process in which bed availability and emergency room status were gathered daily. By working together, there was assurance that patients got the care they needed.

Such collaboration supports DHEC’s vision of healthy people living in healthy communities. It is good to know that when the public health is threatened, South Carolina is ready to respond.

DHEC in the News: Daily ozone forecast, opioids, flu

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

DHEC to provide daily ozone forecast starting April 1

COLUMBIA, SC – Ozone season begins April 1, marking the start of daily forecasts for ground-level ozone from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

High concentrations of ozone can create breathing problems, especially for children, people with asthma or other respiratory problems, and adults who work or exercise outdoors. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ozone can also cause tree and crop damage.

Opioid Overdose Deaths Continue Their Rise In The U.S., CDC Study Finds

According to the CDC’s Morbidity and Weekly Report issued yesterday, opioid overdose deaths continued to rise in the U.S. from 2015 to 2016, despite greater public awareness, enhanced provider awareness of prescribing behavior, as well as added measures put in place throughout communities for treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD).

Flu is still hanging around in some regions, CDC warns

(CNN)You may want to take a little extra time washing your hands if you’re visiting relatives this Passover and Easter weekend. Doctors are still seeing a number of patients with flu, but the numbers are declining amid an intense flu season.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed four more flu-associated pediatric deaths in the 12th week of the season, bringing the total to 137 since October. Puerto Rico and 16 states were still seeing widespread flu cases during the week ending March 24, the CDC said Friday in its weekly surveillance report.

DHEC in the News: Tracking West Nile, HIV rates, flu

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

DHEC: Submitting dead birds can help track West Nile virus in SC

COLUMBIA, SC (FOX Carolina) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is asking residents to send dead birds to their local DHEC offices to help officials track the West Nile virus.

DHEC is asking people to send crows, blue jays, house finches, and house sparrows they find dead as part of the dead bird surveillance program.

General Interest

CDC reports HIV rates are highest in the South

HUNTSVILLE Ala. — HIV rates are declining in the United States due to prevention efforts and awareness, except for in the Deep South. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say southern cities now have the highest rates of new infections nationwide.

A Second Wave of Flu May Be On the Way, CDC Warns

The bulk of this year’s deadly flu season was dominated by the H3N2 virus, an influenza A strain that is more severe and less receptive to vaccines than other types of the disease. As the season winds down, however, influenza B has overtaken influenza A, setting the scene for a possible second wave of flu, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) data.

DHEC in the News: Flu, ‘Stop the Bleed’ kits, opioids

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

South Carolina flu season deadlier than any of past five

Some 221 South Carolinians have died so far this flu season, more than in any of the previous five flu seasons, state health officials report.

And flu season isn’t over yet.

According to state records, 46 South Carolinians died during the 2012-13 flu season, 78 perished in the 2013-14 season, 157 in the 2014-15 season, 47 in the 2015-16 season, and 94 in the 2016-17 season.

“This flu season has been particularly harsh for South Carolina and our country as a whole,” said Dr. Linda Bell, epidemiologist for the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Upstate hospital sparks initiative to get life-saving equipment into every SC school

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — A team effort led to grant funding that will provide 19,000 life-saving kits to every school in South Carolina. The idea for the initiative started in Spartanburg.

“We’ve always called EMS first responders, but we want the lay public that has no background in medicine at all to not be afraid of what bleeding looks like,” said Amy Hamrick, trauma program manager at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.

General Interest

Centers for Disease Control to award over $15 million in opioid overdose prevention funds

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is awarding more than $15 million over three years to seven chosen projects that will help prevent opioid overdoses.

The CDC will award $15,750,000, given out as $750,000 per year, for a total of $2,250,000 over the three years.

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.