Tag Archives: holidays

From Other Blogs: Holiday leftovers, winter safety, food labels & more

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

Holiday Leftovers? We’ve Got You Covered!

All good things must come to an end, including the holidays. But leftovers from your holiday celebrations can help stretch out y our holiday cheer. —  From the EPA Blog

Be Prepared to Stay Safe and Healthy in Winter

Winter storms and cold temperatures can be hazardous. Stay safe and healthy by planning ahead. Prepare your home and cars. Prepare for power outages and outdoor activity. Check on older adults. — From the CDC’s Your Health – Your Environment Blog

NCEH/ATSDR – Top 10 “Your Health, Your Environment” Blog Posts of 2017

As another year draws to a close, perhaps you’ve realized that you didn’t get a chance to read all of the “Your Health, Your Environment” blog posts. To help you get caught up, here are the ten most popular posts of 2017.  — From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Your Health – Your Environment blog

Both Government and Private Company Food Labels Have Tradeoffs

For more than a century, American families have used government-regulated food labels, such as “USDA prime beef,” to help them decide what food products to buy. Today, consumers also look to food labels for information about how their food was grown and how healthy it is. — From the U.S. Department of Agriculture blog

When the holidays aren’t so happy

Gifts and celebrations, parties and lights, what’s not to like? Right?

But for some, the holiday season does not always feel festive and bright.

Here are five factors that can make maintaining the holiday spirit a struggle. — From Flourish, Palmetto Health’s blog

From Other Blogs: Avoiding foodborne illnesses, norovirus, protecting the Earth’s ‘Thin Skin’ & more

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

Don’t Get Roasted by Foodborne Illnesses this Winter

The holidays are all about sharing, having fun and, of course…food!!! I bet you will agree that a good holiday get-together always includes delicious traditional dishes or special recipes.

If you are hosting a holiday party this winter, you have probably already started thinking about treating your guests to a delectable menu. There are endless recipes and traditional holiday dishes that will reappear or make a debut at your dinner table; however, foodborne illnesses should not be part of the feast. While food is something to look forward to this season, foodborne illnesses is not. — From the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) blog

Norovirus Illness is Messy – Clean Up Right Away

When norovirus strikes in your own home, you can be prepared by having the supplies you need to immediately clean up after a loved one vomits or has diarrhea.

Norovirus is a tiny germ that spreads quickly and easily. It causes vomiting and diarrhea that come on suddenly. A very small amount of norovirus can make you sick. The number of virus particles that fit on the head of a pin is enough to infect over 1,000 people. — From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Public Health Matters blog

Protecting the Earth’s ‘Thin Skin’

Though remarkably thin, soil makes up a layer of the Earth’s crust that’s vital to human survival. The soil is a living, breathing thing that, like the body’s skin, requires care and attention lest we lose its many benefits. — From the USDA blog

Farmers Keeping Nutrients on the Field, Out of Streams

Clean water is a priority for all of us. When farmers manage nutrients, they are also helping to minimize the runoff of nutrients into local streams and rivers.

Farmers rely on two major nutrients in fertilizer — nitrogen and phosphorus — to help crops grow. When excess fertilizer leaves the field and enters local waterways in surface water runoff, those nutrients cause algae in the water to bloom much faster than it would under normal conditions. The algae eventually breaks down, and the bacteria involved in decomposition deplete oxygen in the water to unhealthily low levels. Ultimately, fish and other aquatic organisms often die as a result of this oxygen depletion. This process is called eutrophication. — From the USDA blog

DHEC in the News: Hypertension coaching program, norovirus, avoiding food poisoning

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

Family Health Centers participating in Hypertension Coaching Program with pharmacists

One of the state’s largest community health centers is participating in a coaching program designed to help its adult patients better manage hypertension.

Family Health Centers Inc. works to serve the medically underserved and uninsured in Orangeburg, Bamberg, Calhoun and upper Dorchester counties through seven comprehensive primary care sites.

As part of its mission, the FHC has been participating in a Hypertension Coaching Program in partnership with the South Carolina Pharmacy Association. The program is funded as part of a four-year grant from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control that ends in September 2018.

General Interest

Norovirus outbreak spreads across Carolinas

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Norovirus — more commonly referred to as the stomach bug — is sweeping the Carolinas.

Just this week, more than 60 students on the campus of North Carolina State University tested positive for the illness.

In Charlotte, dozens of moms took to the popular Facebook group M2M to share their own horror stories with the contagious bug, which causes your stomach, intestines, or both to become inflamed, which leads to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and in some cases fever and abdominal pain.

Spread joy, not food poisoning, this holiday season

One of the most rewarding parts of throwing a holiday bash is hearing the next day from guests reminiscing about how delicious and fun the prior evening was for all. What you don’t want to receive are messages about an impromptu afterparty thrown at the local emergency room. Food poisoning is a horrific holiday present to give folks as it’s a gift that could keep giving . . . for days.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 48 million people get sick from food poisoning each year, with 128,000 of them having to be hospitalized. Bouts of nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea are not only unpleasant reminders that you ate some bad food, but this type of foodborne illness can accelerate to the point that is life-threatening. According to the CDC, 3,000 people die annually from food poisoning.

The 12 Days of Reducing, Reusing and Recycling

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and as wonderful as the holidays are, it’s also the time of year when people tend to generate tons of waste. While reducing, reusing, and recycling should be practiced year-round, it is even more important during the holidays when our waste is plenteous.

DHEC is challenging you to put these 12 recycling and waste reduction tips to use this holiday season.

  1. Keep a waste-free kitchen by taking a look around to determine what you already have on hand before going shopping. Make a list of things you need before heading to the store. Compost or donate your unwanted food and recycle your cooking oil. Find other helpful tips at dhec.sc.gov/dontwastefoodsc.
  2. Have hard-to-recycle items? Consider only buying materials packaged in what can be recycled in your area. Find where and what you can recycle at www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/Recycling.
  3. Give waste-less gifts like your time to clean someone’s house, piano or guitar lessons, gym memberships or certificates for pampering.newspaperwrap
  4. Most wrapping paper cannot be recycled, BUT you can reuse something to wrap with instead like paper bags, newspaper, maps or use reusable grocery bags, scarves or flower pots. Also reuse greeting cards to make gift tags.
  5. Stop the unwanted mail! Check out ecocycle.org/junkmail for six easy steps. Make sure to recycle mail with your paper as well.
  6. Prevent food waste this holiday by providing reusable containers or asking your guests to bring their own for leftovers.ledlights
  7. Use LED lights, which last 10 times longer and use 80 percent less energy. Recycle your old strings of lights. Find more information on hard-to-recycle items at scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/Recycling/WhatCanIRecycle/.
  8. Go with an eco-deco theme by decorating with natural materials like greenery, gourds, fresh fruit and pine cones — all which can be composted after the holidays.
  9. Set up a collection corner at your party by providing an area where guests can bring unwanted items to swap or donate.
  10. Always let your guests know what can be recycled and composted. Clearly mark your bins and let guests know where they’re located.
  11. Provide a green dining experience by using dishes and silverware instead of disposables. If you need more dishes for guests, shop thrift stores to find festive ones.christmastree
  12. Grind those greens. If you decorated a real tree and are ready for it to go, remember to find out where your county will be accepting them for grinding.

It is important to keep in mind the importance of conserving your waste before, during, and after the holidays.

For more tips and information on recycling and waste reduction, visit the DHEC website.

Help keep the flu off the holiday party guest list: Get vaccinated

By Linda Bell, M.D.
Director, Bureau of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control
State Epidemiologist

There’s nothing like all the hugs, kisses and displays of affection we’re sure to get from family and friends during various holiday parties, family gatherings and visits with friends and neighbors.

Unfortunately, all of that merrymaking can sometimes invite an unwelcomed guest: the flu.

No one wants the flu at any time, let alone during the holidays. The contagious disease can lead to hospitalization — and even death.

There’s still time to get your flu vaccine

If you haven’t done so, it’s not too late to get vaccinated and give yourself the gift that provides the best protection from the flu. The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older get a yearly flu vaccine.

Each flu season is unique; the timing of the peak activity and how severe a season will be are hard to predict, making it very important to protect yourself against flu as early as possible.

Although it is relatively early in this flu season, influenza activity in South Carolina at this point has been higher than normal.  The number of influenza-associated hospitalizations reported in individuals in the 65 years and older age group is nearly double the average number of cases reported over the past five flu seasons.

That is why vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for those 65 years and older, as well as other people who are at high risk of severe flu illness and serious complications from influenza. Other groups who are at high risk include children 5 and younger, pregnant women and those with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease. But it’s important to remember that even healthy people who get the flu can have serious complications, like pneumonia, hospitalization or even death.

National Influenza Vaccination Week

This is National Influenza Vaccination Week (Dec. 3-9), and there is no better time to remind not only older adults, but everyone to get their annual flu vaccine. It’s the single best way to protect yourselves and your loved ones from the flu this holiday season — and throughout the year.

Even if you don’t have a regular health care provider the flu vaccine is available in many settings. In addition to DHEC clinics, many local providers — including doctors’ offices, clinics, pharmacies, college health centers, schools and workplaces — now offer flu vaccines. DHEC encourages everyone to find the facility that works best for them.

Here’s why vaccination is important

There is no shortage of reasons for getting the vaccine:

  • The flu vaccine gives your body the ability to protect itself against the flu because you cannot predict when you might be exposed to someone who is ill. Getting vaccinated yourself also protects people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness.
  • Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits and missed work and school due to flu.
  • While good hand washing practices are always recommended, they only provide limited protection. Flu vaccines offer lasting protection against the flu for the entire flu season.
  • The flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations and deaths.

Take preventive measures against the flu

In addition to receiving an annual flu vaccine, South Carolinians are encouraged to take the following preventive measures:

  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home from work, school and errands if you are sick to avoid getting others sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue if one is handy; throw it away immediately after use. Otherwise, use the crook of your elbow to cover yourself.
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. You can become infected by touching one of these areas after touching something that is covered in germs.

For more information about the flu and to find a clinic near you, visit the DHEC website at www.scdhec.gov/flu.

Do your part to help keep the flu off the guest list this holiday season. Get vaccinated.