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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 24, 2015

DHEC and CDC to review state infectious disease practices

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has agreed to assist the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control in performing a comprehensive review of its infectious disease programs to evaluate whether improvements are recommended to ensure that best practice standards are followed.

DHEC has a longstanding relationship with the nation's pre-eminent health protection agency and routinely consults with CDC about case reports and its investigation of infectious disease outbreaks.

As part of the agency's commitment to continuous quality improvement, DHEC recently requested additional involvement by CDC in conducting a more extensive review. No timetable has been set for completion of the assessment.

The analysis, in part, will focus on identifying where DHEC's investigative processes, protocols and practices may be improved or enhanced, and assessing staffing and training needs.

"We have a talented and dedicated group of public health professionals who have a tremendous responsibility to protect public health," said DHEC Director Catherine Heigel. "Any organization, whether it is a private business or public agency, must constantly reassess its operations. DHEC appreciates CDC's assistance and expertise to look at every area of our infectious disease program and help us serve the public at the highest level of professionalism and integrity."

Heigel said DHEC is taking a holistic, overall look at the entire agency, not just disease control. "We're starting with infectious disease because this area has one of the most significant impacts," she said.

DHEC routinely performs after-action reviews of outbreak investigations. CDC will also review DHEC's response to the recent E. coli outbreak at a Greenwood County childcare facility.

DHEC currently employs 107 staff members who review all reports of possible and confirmed infectious disease cases such as E. coli, hepatitis, influenza, salmonella and tuberculosis.

Since January 1, 2014, DHEC's Division of Acute Disease Epidemiology and regional epidemiological staff have received 73,488 reports, which were examined to determine if they met criteria as per the South Carolina List of Reportable Conditions and if any disease control measures were needed. Also during this same time period, DHEC has investigated more than 558 disease outbreaks.

The results of CDC's comprehensive review will be made public.

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For media inquiries:

Jennifer Read – (803) 898-1259 / ReadJH@dhec.sc.gov