Health Calendar: Jan. 19, 2010

January 19, 2010 

BLOOD DONATIONS NEEDED

The recent cold weather, coming on the heels of the holiday season, has left the state's blood supply drastically low, according to the American Red Cross.

Type O negative and type B negative blood supplies have dropped to emergency levels. And donations of all blood types are needed, the Red Cross says.

To help, call the Red Cross at (800) 448-3543 or go to http://redcrossblood.org to schedule an appointment to donate blood at your nearest donation center.

SHINGLES VACCINATION

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone 60 and older be vaccinated against shingles, a painful nerve disease.

Rite Aid has launched a national shingles vaccination campaign against the disease, which can leave victims bed-ridden for long periods. The vaccine is available at most Rite Aid stores in the Midlands; call your local store to see if appointments are necessary. Most insurance plans, including Medicare Part D, cover some of the costs.

Other health care professionals also offer shingles vaccines.

Shingles is caused by viral remnants of chickenpox that lay dormant in spinal fluid for decades and can flair up later in life, causing long-term pain and inflammation.

Almost 1 in 3 Americans will suffer a shingles outbreak in their lifetime, according to the CDC. Even those who have already had shingles should get vaccinated to prevent further outbreaks, according to the CDC.

FLU UPDATE

For the first time since May, the number of patients coming to doctors' offices with flu-like illnesses is back down to levels in the previous year, according to S.C. health reports.

Also, the number of flu-related hospitalizations continues to go down, more proof the second wave of the swine flu's H1N1 virus has waned.

Almost all of the few cases reported in early January have been the H1N1 virus. But this is the time of year seasonal flu cases usually begin to increase. Last year, the winter flu season peaked twice - the first week in February and the second week in March.

It's not too late to get vaccines, for H1N1 or seasonal flu. Check with your primary care physician, pharmacies or county clinics for vaccine availability. Vaccine information also is available online at http://scdhec.gov/flu/clinic-options.htm.

TRANSPLANT FUND-RAISER

Here's a chance to make a garage sale find or pick up lunch while helping a neighbor raise money for a heart transplant.

Friends of Adelia Harris will stage a garage sale 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 30 in front of Kimbrell's Furniture at 7525 Garners Ferry Road. Household items, clothing and cookbooks will be on sale, as well as hot dogs, hamburgers and drinks.

Money raised from the sale will help Harris, 21, who was diagnosed with heart failure in April. She received a heart pump to sustain her while she awaits a heart transplant.

The transplant will cost $775,000, with additional costs for follow-up care. To donate items for the sale, call Ernestine Reese at (803) 206-8617. The National Foundation for Transplants also is helping with the effort.

DISTANCE RUNNERS ALERT

If you're considering running a marathon but you're not quite sure you're up to it, here's something grueling that might be more to your taste - the Palmetto 200.

It's a 200-mile relay race. Teams of four to 12 people cover 36 segments from Congaree National Park to Folly Beach.

If you can gather a 12-person team, you could do as few as three of the segments, which average about six miles each. Instead of running a marathon, you'd be running three 10K races in a weekend.

The Palmetto 200 organizers recently posted the detailed route and maps online at http://palmetto200.com. You also can register there.

SARCOIDOSIS GATHERING

The Sarcoidosis Winter Retreat is scheduled 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Feb. 6 at Palmetto Health Baptist Breast Center.

Anyone diagnosed with sarcoidosis can get information about the disease and the psychological impact of living with the resulting inflammation of lymph nodes, lungs, liver, skin or other tissues.

Register: (803) 779-2732

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