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DHEC in the News: Flu, park wins national environmental award, pollution at Air Force base

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

SC flu deaths more than double in the new year

South Carolina health officials say 15 people have died of the flu so far this season, more than double the number of deaths at this time last year.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Friday the 15 deaths occurred through Jan. 6.

Upstate businesses combating flu season

As flu season continues to attack the Upstate, workplaces in Spartanburg County are working on ways to keep employees healthy and productivity high.

Sky Foster, BMW Manufacturing Co. Spartanburg’s department manager of corporate communications, said the company plans for flu and cold season months in advance in an effort to keep as many employees as healthy as possible.

Lake Conestee Nature Park wins national environmental award

Lake Conestee Nature Park has been awarded a 2017 Phoenix Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for excellence in brownfield redevelopment.

The award was created in 1997 to honor individuals and groups who are working to solve the critical environmental challenge of transforming blighted and contaminated areas into productive new uses, according to a press release.

Former Donaldson Air Force Base remains polluted with toxic garbage, report says

A new report from ProPublica, an independent nonprofit newsroom based in New York, shows that the former Donaldson Air Force Base in Greenville is one of six military bases statewide that pose a serious threat to the environment and human health.

The report, which draws data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Defense’s Environmental Restoration Program, lists 61 current or former military installations in South Carolina that have been contaminated with toxins.

Here Are Some Actions You Can Take To Help Protect You Against The Flu

No doubt, you’ve heard the reports of widespread flu activity. It’s important to know that there are some things you can do to help protect yourself.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking three actions:

1) Get a flu vaccine.

DHEC and the CDC recommend 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. Getting vaccinated annually is the No. 1 way to combat this contagious disease that can lead to hospitalization — and even death.

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.

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.
  • 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.