Tag Archives: illness

DHEC in the News: Flu, rare illness, TB

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

So far, flu activity is minimal in SC, but experts don’t know yet how bad it will get

While only one lab-confirmed case of the flu was reported to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control by Oct. 13, health experts highly recommend that individuals get a flu shot soon.

Acute Flaccid Myelitis: what you need to know about the disease that’s affecting kids

Lexington, SC (WLTX) — Many have heard about the most recent rise in a rare polio like illness, including here in South Carolina.

“It’s a rare, but significant condition that effects the spinal cord,” Lexington Medical Center Physician Dr. Joshua Prince said.

Case of tuberculosis confirmed at University of South Carolina Upstate

A case of tuberculosis was confirmed this week in a person associated with the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, according to a statement from S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

From Other Blogs: National Immunization Awareness Month, convenience foods, disaster recovery & more

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

Honor National Immunization Awareness Month by Taking Your Best Shot

Last month, news broke that an infant in San Bernardino County, California, died from whooping cough.

As a pediatrician, public health advocate, father, and grandfather of a young infant, it is one of my greatest sorrows to know that even one child died from a disease that is preventable.

Thanks to vaccines, we can protect young infants against whooping cough by making sure everyone is up to date with their vaccines.  — From the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) blog

What Drives Consumers to Purchase Convenience Foods?

Many Americans lead busy lives and don’t have a lot of time to prepare food for their families. Faced with greater time constraints from work, childcare, and commuting, they often turn to convenience foods. Convenience foods are defined as types of foods that save time in food acquisition, preparation, and cleanup. Convenience foods are restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food from grocery stores. The ready-to-eat food encompasses many types of food ranging from bananas to frozen pizza that require little or no preparation. Although these convenience foods save time, they tend to have lower nutritional values and can be more expensive than food that takes more time to prepare. — From the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) blog

#IAmHHS: Helping U.S. Communities Recover after a Disaster

Over my career at HHS, I’ve assisted communities across America in recovering from more than 30 different disasters. So I’m often asked, which was the worst disaster you worked on?

I can’t answer that.  If you’re the person whose home, business or school was destroyed, it’s the worst hurricane, earthquake, tornado, flood, or incident ever. You simply cannot compare disasters.  Every disaster is different; every community is different.  Instead, what matters is to peel back the layers of the onion and see how a community has been affected by the disaster. Whether that is a Hurricane Harvey or the creek that floods out one house, all are devastatingly difficult for the people affected. — From the HHS blog

FDA Announces Two Initiatives to Modernize Drug Quality Programs

Patients expect and deserve high-quality drugs – this means consistently safe and effective medicines, free of defects and contamination. To satisfy these important expectations, the FDA strives to make sure that FDA-approved drugs are manufactured to meet quality standards to ensure that every dose is safe, effective, and capable of providing its intended benefit. — From the US Food & Drug Administration’s blog

5 Common Flood Insurance Myths

The National Flood Insurance Program has worked to protect the life you’ve built for the past 50 years and will continue to do so into the future.  Don’t let rumors and myths drive your decisions.

Here are the five most common myths about flood insurance. — From the Federal Emergency Management Agency blog

DHEC in the News: Flu, heart health, safety of romaine lettuce

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

This flu season one of South Carolina’s deadliest in recent years

Though flu season isn’t over, this one marked one of the deadliest years for the disease in recent South Carolina history, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

As of last week, 271 people have died across the state during the 2017-2018 flu season, passing last season by 177 people, according to Department of Health records.

 Flu season’s 271 deaths in SC were most in years

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Officials say this flu season in South Carolina was the deadliest in years, with over 100 deaths (more) than the previous one that had the most.

General Interest

Increasing exercise over 6-year span protects the heart

Heart failure affects about 5.7 million adults in the United States.

The most salient risk factors for this condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are: hypertension, a history of coronary heart disease or heart attacks, and diabetes.

Since this condition, once acquired, has to be managed for life, healthcare professionals recommend preventive strategies.

These usually involve making more healthful lifestyle choices by acquiring good dietary habits and exercising regularly.

Romaine lettuce likely safe to eat again, CDC says

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they believe E. coli-tainted romaine lettuce blamed for more than 170 illnesses in 32 states is likely no longer in circulation.

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.

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.