Tag Archives: Hepatitis C

DHEC in the News: Secondhand smoke in children, liver cancer, foodborne illness

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

Dangers of secondhand smoke in children

Everyone knows that smoking is harmful to your health. It causes cancer, emphysema, heart attacks and strokes.

In short, it is deadly. Yet, people still smoke.

Many smokers believe it calms their nerves and reduces their appetite. However, this article is not about convincing people to stop smoking. As adults, you already know that you should stop and why. This column is about the dangers of smoking around children and what you can do about it.

Liver cancer deaths soar in South Carolina, across the US

Deaths from liver cancer are up a staggering 43 percent overall nationwide, and South Carolina’s rate is higher than the national average, federal health officials say.

While a number of factors could be to blame, including alcohol and tobacco use, experts point to rising rates of hepatitis C, or HCV, as the main culprit.

General Interest
Foodborne illness may be on the rise. Here’s why

(CNN) One child drank apple cider at a Connecticut farm, another a glass of juice during a road trip in Oregon; later, both were rushed to emergency rooms as they struggled for their lives. A middle-aged woman became sick more than a decade ago after enjoying a salad at a banquet hosted by a California hotel; her debilitating symptoms continue to this day.

A 17-year-old paid the ultimate price when he ate two hamburgers “with everything, to go” and died days later.

These are the stories behind the faces on the “Honor Wall” of Stop Foodborne Illness, the national nonprofit that represents and supports those who suffered a drastic consequence following the most ordinary act: eating.

From Other Blogs: Drought, infectious disease prevention and the opioid response, broccoli & more

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

Tracking Network Data Spotlight: Drought

You don’t have to live in a desert to experience drought. Did you know that 48 states experienced drought in 2016? Dry periods of below-average rainfall are experienced throughout the United States: they can be relatively short or last years, and can cover both large and small areas.

Extended dry periods have become more frequent in parts of the United States during the past several decades. This can affect people’s health in a number of ways.  CDC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (Tracking Network) allows users to track the duration and severity of drought over time throughout the country. This information can inform a wide variety of environmental and public health efforts related to drought. — From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Your Health — Your Environment blog

Integrating Infectious Disease Prevention and Treatment into the Opioid Response

The opioid crisis in the United States is devastating the lives of millions of Americans. Perhaps overshadowed by the alarming rise in overdoses and deaths is the accompanying numbers of injection-related infectious diseases. Opioid overdose deaths increased fivefold from 1999 to 2016, and new hepatitis C infections more than tripled from 2010 to 2016.

Some communities that have been hardest hit by the opioid crisis have also seen associated increases in hepatitis B and C and other infections, such as endocarditis, septic arthritis and abscesses, driven by increases in the numbers of people who inject opioids. — From the US Department of Health & Human Services blog

Always in Season: Frozen Broccoli 5-Ways

Summer is in full swing with warm, long days to enjoy with friends and family. The season offers a perfect time to stock your freezer with vegetables to have on-hand. Frozen vegetables are simple to store and an easy way to make half your plate fruits and vegetables year round. One popular freezer favorite for every season is frozen broccoli.

Broccoli mixes well with a variety of flavors and sauces and can be used in a many recipes. The convenience of frozen broccoli makes it easy to add to soups, casseroles, egg dishes and more. Part of the MyPlate Dark Green Vegetable subgroup, broccoli adds lively color to meals and provides nutrients such as dietary fiber, folate (folic acid) and vitamin C. — From the US Department of Agriculture blog

NIFA-Funded Research Aims to Keep Bees on the Job

Bee populations in North America have been in decline since the 1940s. This is of great concern to the agriculture industry because about 75 percent of specialty crops depend on the services of pollinators – of which bees are the most economically important.

In the United States, honey bees and native bees are the most economically important species contributing approximately $15 billion in crop value. USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) invests in research to investigate the reasons for the declining populations, promote pollinator health, reduce honey bee colony losses, and restore pollinator habitats. — From the USDA blog

DHEC in the News: HIV prevention, swimming advisory, vaccines

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

North Charleston HIV prevention group is reaching at-risk with free testing

A North Charleston HIV testing group recently began driving a van filled with blood tests, condoms and literature to a homeless shelter, a gay bar and local churches.

Despite the difference in these settings, the recently rebranded Palmetto Community Care is targeting each of the populations at these locations by offering HIV and hepatitis C tests outside the clinic’s walls.

Temporary swimming advisory issued in Myrtle Beach, DHEC says

Some sections of the beach in Myrtle Beach have been placed under a swimming advisory after high levels of bacteria were detected, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported.

General Interest
Opting out of vaccines leaves these US ‘hot spots’ most vulnerable for outbreaks

(CNN)A number of American states and metropolitan “hot spots” are vulnerable to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease, new research suggests. The reason? Children whose parents opted out of vaccination.

The risk of outbreaks is rising in 12 of the 18 states that permit nonmedical exemptions from childhood vaccinations, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS Medicine. Those states are Arkansas, Arizona, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah.

DHEC in the News: Community baby showers, swimming advisory, heart disease

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

Community baby shower draws 100 expectant mothers

Sequoia Rivers waited outside of the Palmetto Electric community room in Ridgeland on Friday, anxious to enter the community baby shower being hosted by Sen. Margie Bright Matthews in partnership with Molina Healthcare of South Carolina.

Rivers, a Ridgeland resident, who is expecting her fourth child, has twins and a 7-year-old child. She said she attended to get the most up-to-date information about what opportunities are available for expectant mothers.

SCDHEC lifts swimming advisory for North Myrtle, Surfside

A temporary ban on swimming along portions of the Grand Strand coast has been lifted, South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control announced Friday afternoon.

General Interest

Limited health literacy is a major barrier to heart disease prevention and treatment

Limited healthy literacy is a major barrier blocking many people from achieving good cardiovascular health or benefiting from effective treatment for heart attacks, heart failure, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases, according to a scientific statement published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

Health literacy encompasses not only the ability to read, but skills such as being able to ask questions about your care, understand documents with medical terminology, perform the basic arithmetic needed to take medication correctly and negotiate with health care providers and insurance companies. Inability to do these things effectively can have serious health consequences.

DHEC offering Free Hepatitis Testing during Hepatitis Awareness Month

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month, and while National Hepatitis Testing Day is on May 19, DHEC’s health departments will be providing free testing on May 16.  Know Hepatitis LogosAppointments are encouraged. Please call 1-855-4-SCDHEC (472-3432) to schedule your appointment.

There are many strains of the hepatitis virus but for this year’s Hepatitis Awareness Month DHEC is focusing on Hepatitis A, B, and C, the major causes of contagious liver disease. The department urges anyone who has ever injected drugs, even once, and individuals born between 1945 and 1965, to talk with their healthcare professional about getting tested for hepatitis C and ask if they should be vaccinated for hepatitis A and B.

Hepatitis A is highly contagious. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A may occur in the context of community-wide epidemics, or from exposures to food contaminated with the virus. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. It can also spread from close personal contact with an infected person such as through sex, needle-sharing by IV drug users or caring for someone who is ill.

Both Hepatitis B and C are usually spread when blood or another body fluid from a person infected with the virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Hepatitis B and C virus infections cause some people to develop an acute, or short-term, illness, while others develop a chronic, or long-term, illness.

In 2016, there were 33 cases of acute hepatitis B and 457 cases of chronic hepatitis B reported in South Carolina. Hepatitis B cases were on a steady decline nationally after the widespread use of the hepatitis B vaccine, but in recent years that rate of decline has slowed.

Nearly half of people living with the hepatitis C virus have no symptoms and don’t know they are infected. The vast majority of new infections go undiagnosed. In South Carolina, almost 6,000 people were reported with chronic hepatitis C in 2016. Of those, the majority were baby boomers who were born between 1945 and 1965. Baby boomers are six times more likely to be infected with hepatitis C than those in other age groups. They are also at a much higher risk of death from the virus.

Nationally, the number of new hepatitis C infections has nearly tripled over five years, reaching a 15-year high. The greatest increases and the highest overall number of cases were among young people ages 20-29 who inject drugs.

Vaccinations are available for hepatitis A and B but not C.

For more information about viral hepatitis and where to get tested visit www.scdhec.gov/ViralHepatitis or call the STD/HIV Hotline at 1-800-322-2437.