Tag Archives: travel

Traveling? Worried About Bed Bugs? Here are 3 Fast Facts to Protect Your Family and Home

This time of year is perfect traveling weather in our great state.  However, travel often brings the increased fear of bed bugs.  Causing property damage, skin irritation, and increased expenses, bed bugs are a nuisance worldwide. The good news is that these creepy crawlers are not considered carriers of disease and are, therefore, not a public health threat. Commonly treated by insecticide spraying, there are several steps you can take to help protect your family from bed bugs:

  1. Know how to identify bed bugs and understand where they’re found.
  2. Conduct regular inspections for signs of an infestation.
  3. If you believe you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company to have your home or business properly treated.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) does not have regulatory authority to intervene or respond to bed bug-related issues at hotels, homes, apartments, thrift stores, etc.

Bed bugs at state-licensed healthcare facilities, however, should be reported via online complaint form. For more information about filing a complaint about bed bugs at a regulated healthcare facility, please click here.

Even though DHEC does not inspect, treat or conduct site visits in response to bed bug complaints in homes or hotels, we want to make sure that everyone has access to the information needed to help prevent a bed bug infestation in their home.

Like mosquito bites, bed bug bites typically result in a minor skin irritation. Some people might experience a more severe allergic reaction. If you believe that you are experiencing an adverse reaction to a bed bug bite, please seek medical attention from your healthcare provider.

For more information about bed bugs, click on the following: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Breathe Better (B2) for Businesses

As the population and the number of businesses grow, so does the volume of vehicles on the road in a single day. This can be challenging for keeping the air in South Carolina clean and safe.

The good news is South Carolina does have clean air and is currently attaining all of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide.  These standards were established to protect public health. Maintaining favorable air quality by keeping emissions at a minimum will help keep South Carolina within the air quality standards and protect public health.

Your business can be a leader in your community by implementing air pollution reduction strategies to maintain good air quality in South Carolina:

  • Register to be a Breathe Better (B2) business. You will receive anti-idling signs that can go in your loading areas and parking lots.
  • Sign up for the EPA Air Quality Flag Program and display the corresponding air quality desktop sign in your place of business.
  • Create and support a telecommuting policy for your employees so they can work from home one or more days a week to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.
  • Create and support an alternative work schedule. A flexible work schedule allows your employees to stagger their work schedule to avoid driving in peak rush hour traffic.
  • Encourage carpooling and vanpooling. Sharing your daily commute can reduce the number of vehicles on the road and save on gas.
  • Install a bike rack at your business and encourage employees to ride a bike or walk to work whenever possible. It’s good for the environment and your health.
  • Consider replacing and/or purchasing fleet vehicles with hybrid vehicles or electric vehicles.
  • Look for opportunities to reduce diesel emissions through reduction strategies and technologies. South Carolina Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) Grants are available for eligible applicants to help fund these types of projects.

CDC’s ‘Yellow Book’ 2018: A guide to health risks for international travelers

If you’re thinking about taking an international trip, you might want to consult the “Yellow Book.” It’s not a guide to the coolest places to visit or a doorway to travel discounts, but it’s good for your health.

‘Yellow Book’ provides answers

Every two years the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) produces CDC Health Information for Travel, which is more commonly known as the “Yellow Book.” The new Yellow Book 2018 is now available and is useful for answering questions you might have ahead of your international trip.

Although the book is written primarily for health care providers (doctors, nurses, pharmacists) who help travelers prepare for trips, it is also a great source of information for travelers; in addition, it’s used by people in the travel industry, international corporations, missionary and volunteer organizations and others.

Focus is on international travel health risks

The book offers an in-depth look at travel health risks and ways to prevent them, advice for people with special travel health needs, updated vaccine requirements and recommendations, guidance for travelers with special needs, and more. It also offers health insights about popular tourist destinations and itineraries and includes easy-to-read maps, including global disease maps. You can also get the latest information about emerging infectious disease threats such as Zika, Ebola, and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).

You can access the book free online. It is also available for purchase through Oxford University Press, other major online booksellers and most major bookstores.

Visit the CDC’s website for more information about the Yellow Book.

Travelers Should Follow Zika Precautions

South Carolinians traveling to areas of the world affected by the Zika virus should protect themselves and their families from Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases.

Zika virus is currently circulating in several areas of the world, including countries and territories in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, the Pacific Islands and Cape Verde. It, along with other viruses, can be acquired from the bite of an infected mosquito.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that pregnant women in particular should not travel to areas with active Zika transmission as the virus may cause serious birth defects. Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other health care professional first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.

“We strongly advise that anyone – especially pregnant women – planning to travel be aware of the countries where Zika virus is circulating,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said. “In addition, travelers should consult with a health care provider and follow recommendations on avoiding mosquito bites to prevent all illnesses carried by mosquitoes.”

If you are traveling to a country where there is active Zika transmission, avoid mosquito bites by wearing EPA-approved repellent, wearing protective clothing and staying in facilities with air conditioning or with good window and door screens whenever possible.

Upon returning to the United States, continue to take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks, even if you don’t feel sick, to prevent possible spread of Zika to uninfected mosquitoes.

Sexual transmission of Zika virus from a male partner is possible, so men who have lived or traveled to areas with Zika and their partners should take special precautions to prevent spreading the virus. Pregnant women should avoid sexual contact with men who have recently been in an area with active Zika transmission or use a condom the right way every time. Women and men with possible exposure to Zika virus but no symptoms of Zika virus disease should wait at least eight weeks after exposure before trying to get pregnant.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 600 travel-related cases of Zika virus in the United States, including one confirmed case in South Carolina as of June 10, 2016. In all of these cases the virus was acquired while traveling to a country where Zika is spreading or sexually transmitted by someone who had acquired the virus while traveling. The virus is not currently known to be carried by mosquitoes in the United States.

Helpful information on travel and pregnancy can be found by viewing the following:

For more information on CDC travel advisories, visit http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/.

For additional information on Zika, visit www.scdhec.gov/Zika.

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Protect yourself from mosquito bites

By Jennifer Read

Mosquito Prevention

A few days ago DHEC Public Health confirmed the first case of chikungunya virus this year in a South Carolina resident. The case occurred in an Upstate resident who recently returned from a trip to Haiti.

Chikungunya virus, a mosquito-borne illness traditionally found in Africa and Asia, was recently identified in the Caribbean. The symptoms of chikungunya are headache, fever, rash, joint swelling or muscle pain.

So far, the virus has only been identified in the United States in individuals who recently traveled internationally. If you recently traveled to the Caribbean and believe you have been infected by a mosquito-borne illness, you should contact your health care provider.​

Prevent the Bite

To protect yourself and your family from any mosquito-borne illnesses, DHEC Public Health recommends following “the four Ds” to prevent bites:

  1. DEET – Apply insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing when you go outdoors. Use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent. Permethrin sprayed on clothing provides protection through several washes. Don’t spray repellent on skin under clothing and don’t use permethrin on skin.
  2. Dress – Cover up. Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants and socks while outdoors to prevent mosquito bites.
  3. Dawn and dusk – Reduce exposure to mosquitoes during the early morning and evening hours when they are most active. It is important to wear repellent at that time.
  4. Drain – Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property where mosquitoes can lay their eggs, including flowerpots, old car tires and pet bowls.

For more information on how to prevent mosquito bites this summer, check out our website.