Tag Archives: Influenza

DHEC in the News: Emergency preparedness drill, flu, penicillin-resistant superbug

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

4 Tri-County agencies team up for emergency preparedness drill

DORCHESTER COUNTY, SC (WCSC) – First responders across the Lowcountry are making sure we’re prepared for any emergency that comes our way.

At the Dorchester County Emergency Operations Center, the staff is doing joint activation drills with the Town of Mount Pleasant, Charleston County, and the City of North Charleston in its annual emergency drill. On Wednesday, that training is preparing for a 5.5 magnitude earthquake.

General Interest

Scientists want to infect you with the flu, but you’ll earn $3,500 and a ‘hotel’ stay

Getting the flu sucks, so why not do it in style?

Researchers at Saint Louis University’s Center for Vaccine Development are offering that opportunity, although their reason for it is much more scientific and less glib. They want to infect willing participants with the influenza virus — after giving them either a real vaccine or a placebo — and then monitor how their body reacts, the Center for Vaccine Development’s director Daniel Hoft said.

Here’s what’s in it for you: A free stay at “Hotel Influenza,” a payout of around $3,500, catered meals and access to TV and internet.

Penicillin-resistant superbug found in Orange County facility, CDC report says

A strain of antibiotic-resistant Pseudomonas bacteria was found in a health-care facility in Orange County, making it the first case of its kind in Florida, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The superbug, which produces genes that make it resistant to the penicillin family of antibiotics, was identified in 2017 in seven patients in a long-term acute care hospital — an inpatient hospital for patients who are too sick for nursing homes but not sick-enough for the ICU. The bacteria was identified in patients before causing infections or complications, according to the CDC report.

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.

Remembering the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

One hundred years ago, one of the deadliest disease outbreaks in recorded history swept the globe. During the 1918 influenza (flu) pandemic an estimated 500 million people — or one-third of the world’s population — became infected with this virus, and the number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 675,000 of those deaths occurred in the United States.

The CDC says on its website that the pandemic was so severe that from 1917 to 1918, life expectancy in the United States fell by about 12 years, to 36.6 years for men and 42.2 years for women.

You can read more about the 1918 pandemic on the CDC’s website. In remembering the deadly outbreak, the federal public health agency notes that since 1918, tremendous public health advancements have been made:  the world has a better understanding influenza viruses and advances have been made in influenza vaccines, treatments and preparedness planning and response.

That said, influenza viruses continue to pose one of the world’s greatest infectious disease challenges, and the risk of the next influenza pandemic is always present.
Public health experts, as well as domestic and international partners are collaborating   to address remaining gaps and increase preparedness to minimize the effects of future influenza pandemics.

Visit the CDC’s website for more information on the 1918 influenza pandemic.

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.