Tag Archives: prevention

DHEC in the News: Teen birth rate, Charleston Water System’s 100th anniversary, rabies

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

Teen birth rate continues to drop in South Carolina

The teen birth rate in South Carolina continues to decline, new numbers published by the S.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy show.

Between 2015 and 2016, the teen birth rate in the state dropped by 9 percent. Last year, looking specifically at the 15- to 19-year-old cohort, an average 23.8 of every 1,000 females gave birth.

On 100th anniversary, Charleston Water System digs up a bit of its well water past

Charleston soon will mark a modern milestone: The 100th anniversary of the city’s owning its own water system.

To observe the October occasion, the Charleston Water System isn’t burying a time capsule but it has been digging one up.

1 person potentially exposed to rabies by cat in Greenville Co.

SIMPSONVILLE, SC (WSPA) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says that one person was potentially exposed to rabies by a stray cat that tested positive for the disease.

DHEC says that two stray cats were seen fighting before one turned on the victim, who was scratched.

Be sure to take preventative measures to avoid the flu

Make no mistake: The single best way to protect against the flu is to get a flu vaccine each year. DHEC and the Centers for Disease Control and prevention recommend that everyone 6 months and older, especially people at high risk for developing serious complications from flu, get vaccinated each season.

That said, it is also important to take other preventive measures to combat the flu as well.

DHEC encourages South Carolinians to:

  • Stay away from people who are sick.
  • Stay home from work and school, as well as refrain from errands, if you are sick to help keep others from getting sick too.
  • 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 keep germs off of your hands and surfaces that you touch.
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly to prevent the flu and many other diseases.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs easily enter the body and cause infection when someone touches something that is covered with germs and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Please consider other habits to stay healthy year round, including getting plenty of exercise and sleep, managing your stress, drinking water and eating nutritious foods.

Visit DHEC’s website for more information about the flu and to find a clinic near you www.scdhec.gov/flu. You can also view the video below to learn more.

CDC offers K-12 schools guidance on Zika prevention and response

It’s the beginning of yet another school year, and parents are rightly asking many questions in an effort to make sure students will get the best instruction, guidance and care possible.

What is the teacher’s homework policy and how often does he give tests? How much experience does the school nurse have? Where will medications be kept and how quickly will a student be able to access them if needed? What’s the school’s emergency dismissal plan?

What’s the plan to prevent and respond to the threat of Zika at school?

Wait. What was that? A plan for dealing with Zika? At school?

While parents are not used to asking that question, the fact is schools, like individual households, cities and counties and other entities, can’t ignore the potential spread of Zika.

But schools aren’t left to their own devices. The Centers for Disease Control has developed interim guidance for district leaders and administrators at K-12 schools. The guidance includes information for planning school-related activities and recommends actions schools, in consultation with local public health authorities and government officials, can take to reduce the potential risk for Zika virus transmission on school premises and among students.

CDC notes that there is no evidence that the risk for Zika being transmitted on school properties will be higher than in other local areas. The virus is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, through sexual contact, or from a pregnant woman to her fetus.

The CDC guidance, which will be updated as new information becomes available, provides an overview of the potential roles and responsibilities of public health authorities and school officials, describes prevention measures that schools can take to reduce mosquito exposure, and provides information on responding to a case of travel-associated Zika virus infection or confirmed local mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus. Considerations for child care, camp and higher education settings also are addressed.

Click here for information on interim guidance for Zika response planning for district and school administrators.

The latest available Zika virus information, including answers to commonly asked questions, can be found here.

Information on mosquitoes and Zika can also be found at scdhec.gov/mosquitoes or scdhec.gov/zika.

There Are Ways to Make Your Child’s Shots Less Stressful

LaDonna White, RN, MSN
Nurse Consultant
Immunization Division

Vaccines help protect babies and young children against 14 serious diseases before their 2nd birthday. Even though you are keeping her safe from diseases, it’s hard to see your child cry when she gets her shots. But you can take some steps before, during and after a vaccine visit to ease the short-term pain and stress of getting shots.

That’s where parents come in: What you say and do before, during and after their immunization appointment can help calm a child, allay their fears and make the immunization visit less stressful on you both.

Read about the shots your child will get in advance. “CDC has a lot of useful information to help parents understand the importance of on-time vaccination,” said Dr. Candice Robinson, a pediatrician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “You can review this information before your appointment, and then, you can ask your child’s doctor any remaining questions you have about vaccines.” The more informed you are about vaccinations, the better you may feel.

You may also want to bring your child’s vaccine record to show the doctor, and pack a favorite toy, book, blanket or other comfort item to keep your child occupied at the visit. For older children, shots can pinch or sting, but not for long. Remind them that shots help keep them healthy.

The CDC suggests trying the following tips during the vaccine visit to support your child before, during and after shots:

For babies and younger children

  • Distract and comfort your child by cuddling, singing or talking softly.
  • Smile and make eye contact with your child. Let your child know that everything is OK.
  • Comfort your child with a favorite toy or book. A blanket that smells familiar will help your child feel more comfortable.
  • Hold your child firmly on your lap, whenever possible.

For older children and adolescents

  • Take deep breaths with your child to help “blow out” the pain.
  • Point out interesting things in the room to help create distractions.
  • Tell or read stories. Remember to pack their favorite book!
  • Support your child if he or she cries. Never scold a child for not “being brave.”

For more information about how to make the immunization visit less stressful, go to cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/visit   

You can help prevent the spread of Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases

 

Linda Bell, MD
State Epidemiologist
Clinical Services

Summer is here — and so is peak mosquito season, along with irritating bites and the threat of disease.

South Carolina is home to at least 61 different species of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes in our state might carry West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis or other viruses or parasites. The newest potential threat is the Zika virus, a typically mild virus for the general population, but one that can cause birth defects in infants when contracted by pregnant women.

As of August 1, South Carolina has had 26 travel-associated cases of Zika virus; 25 were in travelers infected abroad and diagnosed after they returned home. One case involved a S.C. resident who had sexual contact with someone who acquired the Zika infection while traveling.

Although mosquitoes in South Carolina do not carry the Zika virus at this time, there is a chance that some species could one day transmit the virus in our local communities.

We must be prepared.

DHEC, local governments and other partners came together this spring at the South Carolina Zika Forum to discuss and plan for the key roles we play in preventing and responding to Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases.  But we need your help, too. Citizens are the first line of defense.

You can help protect our state against the Zika virus. Or West Nile. Or any other mosquito-borne illnesses. And you don’t have to be an expert.

You don’t even have to leave your own yard.  Simply take responsibility for ridding your property and home of mosquito-breeding grounds and protecting your family against bites.

Two of the main types of mosquitoes known to transmit the Zika virus are present in South Carolina and are commonly found near homes and buildings. They can breed in containers holding water. Even something as small as a bottle cap. Frequently emptying or removing containers that hold standing or stagnant water from your property is one of the most effective ways to reduce the presence of mosquitoes and prevent the spread of disease.

DHEC is urging residents to leave no stone unturned as they seek to silence the buzz and eliminate mosquito-breeding spots. Among other things:

  • Clear out weeds, leaves, dirt and other debris from pipes.
  • Repair leaky pipes and outdoor faucets.
  • Clean out rain gutters and downspouts regularly.
  • Empty and turn over or put away containers that can hold water, such as: cans, jars, drums, bottles, flower pots, children’s toys, old appliances, etc.
  • Make sure all permanent water containers, such as wells, septic tanks, water tanks and cesspools are tightly covered and insect-proof.
  • Change the water in bird baths and empty and clean out children’s wading pools at least once a week.
  • Drain old tires or recycle them.
  • Use biological agents such as mosquito dunks or torpedoes to treat containers without lids or that can’t be lifted and emptied.

In addition to eliminating breeding sites, protect yourself from mosquito bites.

  • When you go outside, apply an EPA-recommended mosquito repellent to your skin or wear protective clothing.
  • Wear light colors and avoid wearing scented products outdoors.
  • Be careful when applying insect repellents to children and babies:
    • Spray repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
    • Do not apply repellent to a child’s hands, mouth, cut or irritated skin.
    • Do not use Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus on children younger than 3 years old.  Do not use repellents containing DEET on babies younger than 2 months old.
  • Keep car windows rolled up and garage doors closed at night.
  • Make sure all screens on windows and doors are intact and installed properly.

Currently, all S.C. Zika cases are travel-associated. Before traveling, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Travelers Health website (cdc.gov/travel) to see if your destination has any travel health notices and to find tips on preventing Zika infection during and after trips. CDC recommends pregnant women avoid areas with active Zika virus transmission.

For its part, DHEC monitors for mosquito-borne diseases that can be spread to people and provides information to reduce mosquito populations and prevent bites. The agency also encourages local governments to protect citizens through local mosquito control programs and local ordinances, and by treating standing water in roadside ditches and other areas.

Ultimately, it will take the best efforts of the entire community to provide an appropriate response to the risk that Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses present.

Rid your home and yard of trouble spots today. The sooner, the better.