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DHEC releases Annual Report outlining many communicable diseases that make South Carolinians ill

Today, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control released its 2018 Annual Morbidity Report on Reportable Conditions, which provides data and details about many of the diseases that cause significant injury, complications, or death among South Carolinians.

The report is meant to provide residents, as well as healthcare organizations and providers, government and regulatory agencies, and others important statistical information about potentially preventable diseases and conditions. The data in the report reflect communicable diseases and conditions — from the flu and West Nile virus to chicken pox and measles to hepatitis A and salmonella — acquired by South Carolina residents both at home and while traveling outside the state.

“It is critical to collect data and study disease trends and distribution in the population in an effort to determine ways to prevent cases and minimize the spread of illnesses, as well control future outbreaks,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist and director of DHEC’s Bureau of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control. “Ultimately, the idea is to position the state to help the people of South Carolina be prepared for and avoid preventable diseases.”

Dr. Bell said when DHEC learns of cases of disease or conditions, it uses that information to protect the greater public. Among other things, public health experts can talk with infected persons and use the information gathered to:

  • Help protect others who had contact with the sick person
  • Provide preventive information to health care providers and residents
  • Take steps to educate or even vaccinate the public to prevent further spread of a disease

State law requires health care facilities and providers to report conditions on the state’s List of Reportable Conditions to the local public health department. The report provides statewide and county level data on frequent and infrequent conditions reported to DHEC.

Frequent conditions are those that had reports of 21 cases or more over the course of the year. In 2018, the list of frequent conditions includes animal bites, invasive group A streptococcus disease, hepatitis A infection, acute hepatitis B infection, influenza, legionellosis, Lyme disease and many more. Infrequent conditions are those with a total of four to 20 cases reported during the year. In 2018, infrequent conditions included, among others, listeriosis, mumps, and mosquito-borne viral conditions.

Also included in the report are summaries of several outbreaks that occurred during 2018, including one involving measles in the Upstate and another one involving salmonella in Beaufort. The report can be viewed on the DHEC website at www.scdhec.gov/MRRC.