Tag Archives: tuberculosis

DHEC Works to Continue to Control and Eliminate Tuberculosis (TB)

When Dr. Robert Koch announced in 1882 his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes tuberculosis (TB), it marked a critical turning point in the fight against the disease. It’s a fight that DHEC’s TB Control Division and its partners continue in South Carolina today.  

In recent years, the push to control TB across the globe had been making positive strides until 2020 when there was what many hope will turn out to be simply a brief setback.  

“For the first time in over a decade, TB deaths increased in 2020. The theme of World TB Day 2022 – ‘Invest to End TB. Save Lives.’ – conveys the urgent need to invest resources to ramp up the fight against TB and achieve the commitment to end TB made by global leaders.” 

– Pan American Health Organization; World Health Organization, 2022 

March 24 is World TB Day, and DHEC’s TB Control Division will celebrate it on Friday March 25, 2022. We will join local, state, national, and global public health officials, and partners in recognizing Dr. Koch’s efforts as well as that of people across the world who have worked to control and eliminate TB. 

Click here to learn more about our work with partners to fight this illness. 

About TB 

Tuberculosis is a disease of the lungs that can be spread by coughing, sneezing, or speaking. It is treatable and preventable. We all can play an important role in eliminating tuberculosis in our community by understanding the signs and symptoms and helping to educate others.   

The signs and symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected, but the general signs and symptoms of TB disease include:  

  • feelings of sickness or weakness,  
  • weight loss,  
  • fever,  
  • night sweats, 
  • chest pain, 
  • coughing, and 
  • coughing up blood.  

Click here for a short video on one person’s story related to TB. 

DHEC Observes World TB Day, Recognizes Efforts of Those Who Work to End the Disease in SC

This World TB Day, DHEC joins local, state, national and global efforts to control and eliminate tuberculosis, as well as to celebrate the work people all over the world have done to address tuberculosis.

World TB Day is officially observed on March 24 of each year to commemorate the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes TB.

Tuberculosis is a disease of the lungs that can be spread by coughing, sneezing or speaking. Signs and symptoms of TB disease include feelings of sickness or weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats. The signs and symptoms of TB disease of the lungs also include coughing, chest pain and the coughing up of blood. The signs and symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected.

The 2020 World TB Day theme is ”It’s Time”. DHEC will take the time to recognize the amazing work of those in our TB division across the state. Our statewide theme is ”It’s time for us to speak out, step in, and stand up to end TB.”

In observance of the day, DHEC will celebrate with all TB staff on Friday, March 20. The two-hour celebration will include lectures by our state TB Clinician, Dr. Frank Ervin and Lowcountry’s TB Clinician, Dr. Susan Dorman. Awards will be given out in various categories, and staff will be recognized for their great achievements of continued reduction in our state case rate.

Visit the DHEC website for more information on our World TB Day activities.

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.

Remembering Dr. Richard Ballew: A legacy of service to TB control and public health

Photo above: Dr. Richard “Dick” Ballew (seated) served our agency and state for almost 50 years making a dramatic difference in the treatment and control of tuberculosis.

By Jim Beasley

Few people exemplify the traits of service and dedication as well as DHEC tuberculosis consultant Dr. Richard “Dick” Ballew.

Dr. Ballew died May 16 following a lengthy illness, leaving a notable legacy in the wake of nearly 50 years of service with DHEC.

After receiving his medical doctorate degree from the University of Tennessee, he served with the U.S. Public Health Service in South Carolina from 1958 until 1960, focusing his efforts on the treatment and control of sexually transmitted diseases. After an eight-year stint at an Alabama private practice, Dr. Ballew returned to South Carolina in 1968 as a DHEC clinical physician and medical director.

He then turned his eyes toward the agency’s efforts to fight tuberculosis in 1970 by holding TB clinics at the Lexington County Health Department. At the time, South Carolina experienced more than 600 cases of TB disease annually, placing a significant medical burden on the agency and state.

His interest in the disease grew, leading him to assume a full-time position as chief medical consultant to DHEC’s Division of Tuberculosis Control in 1990. Dr. Ballew oversaw diagnosis and treatment of an extraordinary number of TB cases as he conducted TB clinics in 37 of the state’s 46 counties. Through his work with the agency’s TB team, the incidence of the disease dropped to approximately 100 per year by his full retirement last year. TB control specialists around the country took note of these accomplishments, as did members of DHEC’s TB Control staff.

Dr. Ballew possessed wisdom from his years of experience, and he was always willing to share it with others through training clinics and consultations.

“He became the ‘go-to’ consultant for suspect TB cases and, of course, for proven TB cases as well,” said Dr. Eric Brenner, formerly of DHEC and now with the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health. “Aside from being a clinician par-excellence, Dr. Ballew was also a wonderful teacher, serving as instructor in TB courses for nurses and clinicians from around the state.

“During his 35 years in the TB program,” continued Dr. Brenner, “the state reported approximately 6,700 cases of this infectious illness, and a conservative estimate is that Dr. Ballew was personally responsible for the medical treatment of over a third of them.”

His dedication to battling disease could only be topped by his love for Nancy, his wife of 56 years.

“He loved his wife and family,” said Debra Ray, BSN, MPH, who worked alongside Dr. Ballew for almost 23 years in DHEC’s TB program. “He always referred to Mrs. Ballew as his ‘bride.'”

Dr. and Mrs. Ballew Dec 2015

Dr. Ballew accepts an award at his DHEC retirement party in December 2015.

Dr. Ballew retired from DHEC in 2000, the first time, leaving his full-time position as TB consultant with the agency. He would continue as a part-time consultant until eventually retiring, for a second time, in December 2015. His health would not allow him to reach his goal of 50 years with the agency. TB staff from across the state gathered in Columbia to honor the man who began serving this agency before many of them had been born.

“Dr. Ballew has worked extensively to eliminate TB disease, making South Carolina a healthier place,” said Basley Carlisle, director of DHEC’s Division of Tuberculosis Control. “Dr. Ballew will truly be missed.”

Very true. He will be missed by many.

“He was not only a compassionate, dedicated physician,” Ray said, “but also a wonderful friend.”

The time is now to ‘End TB!’

By Victoria Bethay

For many, tuberculosis (TB) seems to be a disease from another era, something our parents or grandparents might have had to worry about. TB, which is still around today, is a treatable bacterial disease found primarily in the lungs. It is spread from person to person through the air.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control works tirelessly to eliminate TB in our state through awareness campaigns targeting high-risk populations, education of medical staff on TB, and excellent patient care for those diagnosed with it.

To help build awareness, World TB Day has been designated for March 24 to commemorate the discovery of the mycobacterium that causes TB in people. This year’s theme, chosen in collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Stop TB and the National TB Controllers Association, is “End TB.” The strategy aims to eliminate this deadly disease worldwide, and DHEC plays a key role in the effort to reduce the number of cases in South Carolina.

Globally, 9.6 million people were diagnosed with active TB disease in 2014. The United States reported having 9,421 of those cases. In that same year, South Carolina diagnosed 79 cases of TB. South Carolina’s African-American population is at a much greater risk for developing TB – in 2014 this community made up 64.6 percent of TB cases statewide.

TB can be spread from person to person through the air when an infected individual coughs, sneezes, speaks or even sings. Individuals with active TB disease may have a cough lasting three weeks or longer, chest pain, coughing up blood or mucus, fatigue, loss of appetite, fever or chills, and night sweats.

If you have been exposed to someone with TB, or have any of the signs or symptoms of disease, contact your health care provider about getting screened. Current screening tests available for TB testing include: the Tuberculin Skin Test (TST) and a blood test (IGRA). If you have been exposed to TB or have TB symptoms, ask your health care provider which test is best for you.

The time is now to “End TB!” For more information on resources offered by DHEC, visit our website at http://www.scdhec.gov/tb/ .