November 28, 2015

CDC warns parasite-carrying insect has been found in SC

Triatomine (Image: CDC/James Gathany)

Triatomine (Image: CDC/James Gathany)

Federal health officials say that a parasite-carrying bug whose bite can be fatal in certain rare cases has now been found in South Carolina.

The Center for Disease Control says Triatomine bugs, or the “kissing bug,” are a type of insect that can carry the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi which can cause Chagas disease. The Atlanta Journal Constitution first reported Monday that Triatomine had been found in Georgia and the Carolinas.

It is possible, though rare, to contract Chagas disease from the feces of a “kissing bug,” according to the CDC. Chagas disease can cause skin lesions, swelling of the lids of one eye, fever, muscle pain, and difficulty in breathing. Transmission of the disease is rare in the United States, being more commonly found in the tropic climates of Latin America. There are no known cases of individuals getting the disease through insect bites in South Carolina.

The CDC estimates around 300,000 people in the U.S. are carrying the disease, with only a small percentage showing complications from it. The prevalence of the disease can be difficult to determine, however, since Chaga is only reportable in Arkansas, Arizona, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Texas.

The “kissing bug” gets its name for biting humans on their lips or eyes, usually while they sleep. The bug generally defecates on or near a person while it is feeding on his or her blood. Transmission occurs when fecal material gets rubbed into the bite wound or into a mucous membrane (for example, the eye or mouth), and the parasite enters the body. If you suspect you have Chagas disease, consult your health care provider.

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USC creates Center for Civil Rights History and Research

Congressman Jim Clyburn speaks at Monday's ceremony (Image: Provided by USC)

Congressman Jim Clyburn speaks at Monday’s ceremony (Image: Provided by USC)

South Carolina’s only Democrat in Congress will donate his official papers and other documents to the University of South Carolina as part of a new civil rights center announced Monday.

Congressman Jim Clyburn revealed the contribution to the university’s new Center for Civil Rights History and Research during a ceremony Monday.

“I hope that I can play a role in bringing the role in bringing the real story of South Carolina to those who would benefit from it,” Clyburn said during the ceremony.

USC already has a significant collection of papers from some of the state’s most noted civil rights leaders, including Joseph A. De Laine, John Bolt Culbertson, I. DeQuincey Newman and Modjeska Monteith Simkins, but school leaders say they want to house the documents in a single location rather than scattered across its massive library collections.

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Florida developer gets 3 years probation for role in SC State kickback case

A Florida developer will avoid prison for his role in a corruption and bribery scandal at South Carolina State University, after a federal judge agreed his cooperation and lack of criminal record made three years probation an appropriate sentence.

Richard Zahn had pleaded guilty two years ago to wire fraud and attempted bribery for his role in promising kickbacks to two SC State officials in exchange for the school buying land that Zahn owned. Even though his plea came in 2013, prosecutors had waited until after criminal cases were resolved against former SC State Board of Trustees chairman Jonathan Pinson and others.

The State newspaper reported Monday District Judge David Norton accepted arguments from Zahn’s attorneys, who argued the developer had cooperated with investigators and even testified during Pinson’s trial last year. In addition to the probation, the developer must also fund a $25,000 scholarship for a student at South Carolina’s only public historically-black college.

Pinson, who denies intentionally violating the law, was eventually convicted on 29 counts and sentenced to five years in prison for agreeing to accept Zahn’s bribe while at SC State, as well as misusing government grant funds in a Columbia housing project and a Marion County diaper factory. He remains out on bond while his sentence is appealed.

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#PalmettoPrimary: New polls shows Trump, Clinton leads growing in SC

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at Allen University in Columbia on Saturday (Image: Twitter/@the2020club)

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at Allen University in Columbia on Saturday (Image: Twitter/@the2020club)

A daily look at how the presidential candidates of both parties are trying to win the “First in the South” primary.

A new CBS/YouGov poll of likely South Carolina primary voters has found Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump growing their leads over rivals in the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns.

The poll released Sunday found that Trump was the first choice among 35 percent of likely Republican primary voters in the Palmetto State. The new numbers seem to suggest the real estate mogul has regained his momentum after dropping into a statistical dead heat with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson earlier this month.

Carson remains second in the poll, but saw his support drop to 19 percent after the same survey found him at 23 percent in late October. Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (16%) and Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (13%) seem to be benefitting from Carson’s slip, but both remain far behind Trump. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush received 5 percent support, the only other candidate outside the poll’s margin of error.

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Fripp Island infantryman dies in Iraq

Pvt. Christopher Castaneda (Image: US Army)

Pvt. Christopher Castaneda (Image: US Army)

The U.S. Army says a soldier from the Lowcountry has died during a non-combat incident in Iraq. But the Pentagon has not said what caused his death.

The Defense Department said 19-year-old Pvt. Christopher Castaneda died Thursday at the Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. A spokeswoman would not give details of what happened other than saying it was a “non-combat related incident.” Castaneda was from Fripp Island in Beaufort County. He was an infantryman who joined the Army in January.

He served in the 3rd Squad, 71st Cavalry Regiment, which was part of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. The team is normally stationed at Fort Drum in New York, but deployed to Iraq in August to help in a non-combat role as Iraqi security forces fight Islamic State.

The Army says Castaneda has been posthumously awarded the Army Achievement Medal.