District 4 Public Health

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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Immunization Awareness Month

The month of August is about bringing awareness to immunizations, and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) wants Georgians to think ahead and get vaccinations.

“Back to school season is one of the best times to prioritize vaccinating your family,” said Sheila Lovett, director for the Georgia Department of Public Health Immunization Program. “It’s critical that everyone, especially children and teens, get vaccinated, as it’s
the best defense we have against potentially deadly diseases.”
Before starting the 2020-2021 school year, all students entering or transferring into 11th grade will need proof of a meningococcal booster shot (MCV4), unless their first dose was received on or after their 16th birthday. Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial illness that affects the brain and the spinal cord. Meningitis can cause shock, coma and death within hours of the first symptoms. To help protect your children and others from meningitis, Georgia law requires students be vaccinated against this disease, unless the
child has an exemption.

Some schools, colleges, and universities have policies requiring vaccination against meningococcal disease as a condition of enrollment. Students aged 21 years or younger should have documentation of receipt of a dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine not more than five years before enrollment. If the primary dose was administered before the 16th birthday, a booster dose should be administered before enrollment in college.

Safe and effective vaccines are available to protect adults and children alike against potentially life-threatening diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, meningococcal disease, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, shingles, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox).

Every adult in Georgia (19 years of age and older) should follow the recommended immunization schedule by age and medical condition. Vaccinations protect our families and communities; especially infants and those individuals who are unable to be immunized or who have weakened immune systems.

Vaccines protect families, teens and children by preventing disease. Not only do vaccinations help avoid expensive therapies and hospitalization needed to treat infectious diseases like influenza and pneumococcal disease, but they also reduce absences both at school and at work and decrease the spread of illness in the home, workplace and community. Adults should check with their healthcare provider for their current immunization recommendations, as well as parents to check for their children.

For the 2019–20 U.S. influenza season, providers may choose to administer any licensed, age-appropriate influenza vaccine (IIV, recombinant influenza vaccine [RIV], or LAIV4).
LAIV4 is an option for those for whom it is otherwise appropriate. No preference is expressed for any influenza vaccine product.

Talk to your health care provider or visit your public health department and get vaccinated today.

For more information on immunization, visit http://dph.georgia.gov/immunization-section.

Protect Against West Nile Virus

The most effective way to protect against West Nile Virus infection and all mosquito-borne diseases, is to prevent mosquito bites. Observe the “Five D’s of Prevention” during your outdoor activities:

  • Dusk/Dawn – Mosquitoes carrying WNV usually bite at dusk and dawn, so avoid or limit outdoor activity at these times.
  • Dress – Wear loose-fitting, long sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
  • DEET – Cover exposed skin with an insect repellent containing DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites.
  • Drain – Empty any containers holding standing water because they are excellent breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitoes.
  • Doors – Make sure doors and windows are in good repair and fit tightly, and fix torn or damaged screens to keep mosquitoes out of the house.

Symptoms of WNV include headache, fever, neck discomfort, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash – that usually develop three to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The elderly, those with compromised immune systems, or those with other underlying medical conditions are at greater risk for complications from the disease.

Anyone with questions about West Nile Virus should speak to their healthcare provider or call their local county health department, environmental health office.
More information about mosquito-borne illnesses and mosquito repellents can be found here.

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Rabies Confirmed in Henry County

On April 2, 2019, the Henry County Animal Care and Control Department received a call that a sick raccoon had come into contact with a dog on Wild Turkey Drive, in Locust Grove, Georgia. The raccoon was taken to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory for rabies testing, and the results came back positive for the rabies virus. This is the second rabies positive raccoon in Henry County since January 2019.

The Henry County Animal Care and Control Department has issued a: A 45-day Rabies Alert, as required by the Georgia Rabies Control Manual, for a half-mile area in and around the Kimbell Farms Estates Subdivision, in Locust Grove, GA. During this alert, residents living within this area should make sure that all of their companion animals have a current rabies vaccination, and if not must do so as soon as possible.

Rabies is an acute viral disease of the central nervous system that affects humans and other mammals. It is almost exclusively transmitted through saliva from the bite of an infected animal.

More information about rabies control in Henry County can be found on the Henry County Animal Control website.

E. coli Illness in Georgia Linked to Multistate Outbreak

E. coli Illness in Georgia Linked to Multistate Outbreak


The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed 17 cases of E. coli O103 infection in Georgia. Because this is an ongoing investigation, the number of cases is expected to increase. These illnesses are part of a multistate E. coli outbreak sickening nearly 100 people in five states. There are no reports of death in the outbreak.

A specific food item, grocery store, or restaurant chain has not been identified as the source of these infections. DPH is interviewing the individuals who became ill, asking them about foods they ate in the week before they got sick and looking for any other exposures or commonalities.

People usually get sick from E. coli O103 an average of 3-4 days after swallowing the germ. Symptoms of E. coli O103 include diarrhea (often bloody), severe stomach cramps and vomiting. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should see their doctor. Young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk for developing complications from E. coli infection.

“Most people recover from E. coli O103 infections within a week, but some illnesses last longer and can be more severe, resulting in a type of kidney failure,” said Cherie Drenzek, DVM, MS, DPH chief science officer and state epidemiologist. “It is crucial that the public understands how serious E. coli O103 infections can be, and to heed all recommended precautions about handwashing and food preparation.”

Ways to prevent E. coli infection include:

  • Wash your hands. Wash hands after using the restroom or changing diapers, before and after preparing or eating food, and after contact with animals.
  • Cook meats properly. Cook ground beef and pork to at least 160˚F. Cook steaks and roasts to at least 145˚F and let rest for three minutes after you remove meat from the grill or stove. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the meat.
  • Keep raw meats separate from foods that won’t be cooked before eating. Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils with soap after they touch raw meat to avoid contaminating other foods.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk and other dairy products, and unpasteurized juice.
  • Don’t prepare food or drink for others when you are sick.

For more information about E. coli O103 log on to https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/index.html. For more information about safe food handling and preparation log on to https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/clean/index.html.

National Nutrition Month

America is known as a melting pot of cultures who enjoy a variety of ethnic dishes, but some of these recipes can be high in saturated fat and calories. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers tips on how to cut down on fat while savoring the flavor of traditional family fare.

“Family recipes are usually passed down from one generation to the next, so many of us hesitate to tinker with perfection,” says Cordialis Msora-Kasago, a Los Angeles-based registered dietitian nutritionist and a national spokesperson for the Academy. “I encourage my clients to experiment with cooking techniques and flavors to put their own heathy spin on family dishes.”

“Try baking instead of frying your chicken or pork chops,” Msora-Kasago says. “Look for ways to lighten up your dishes and enjoy the natural flavors of food.”

Smart Swaps

“You don’t have to forgo your favorite dishes in your quest for more healthful meals,” Msora-Kasago says. “Consider swapping less healthful ingredients with more nutritious options.”

Msora-Kasago offers the following tips:

  • Use heart-healthy canola, olive or peanut oil instead of solid fats.
  • Use sharp, reduced-fat cheese and low-fat milk in your macaroni and cheese
  • Sweeten your desserts with fruit puree or apple sauce instead of sugar
  • Use whole wheat flour instead of white flour in muffins
  • Opt for brown rice instead of white rice in your red beans and rice or jambalaya.

Msora-Kasago’s advice? “Experiment! Cut the fat in potato salad by substituting half of the mayonnaise with plain non-fat Greek yogurt. Your family might not notice the difference. Simple swaps are key to making dishes healthier without sacrificing flavor.”

Savor the Flavor

“Liven up your family meals by trying new spices,” Msora-Kasago says. “Use smoked paprika or a dash of smoked salt to add the smoked flavor that you would normally get from ham, bacon or salt pork. Consider using salt-free herb blends to lower the salt in your foods.”

Experiment with different flavors by adding apple cider or rice vinegar to your greens or marinate your chicken in rosemary and lemon juice before grilling, Msora-Kasago says.

“Don’t bury the natural sweetness of your sweet potatoes under a mound of marshmallows and sugar,” Msora-Kasago says. “Add a little brown sugar and vanilla to make a lower-calorie version of candied yams.”

“Eating right isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor,” Msora-Kasago says. “Healthy eating styles can be adapted to fit the foods of all cultures.”

Examples of healthful menu items from cultural traditions.

Healthy eating on a budget.

Keep Your Preteen Safe – Vaccinate Them Today

Vaccinate your preteen today so they can have healthy tomorrow.

In an effort to protect every adult and child, District 4 Public Health is joining the Georgia Department of Public Health in recognizing March 11-15, 2019 as Georgia Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week. This week serves as a reminder for parents to talk with their preteens and teens about getting immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases.

“Every parent wants to protect their child from danger, yet many times parents don’t see vaccination as a priority,” said Sheila Lovett, Immunization Program director for the Georgia Department of Public Health. “Vaccinating your child is the single best way to protect them from these preventable diseases, so we urge parents to make this a priority.”

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health Rule (511-2-2), all students born on or after January 1, 2002, entering or transferring into seventh grade and any “new entrant” into eighth -12th grades in Georgia need proof of an adolescent pertussis (whooping cough) booster vaccination (called “Tdap”) AND an adolescent meningococcal vaccination (MenACWY). This law affects all public and private schools including, but not limited to, charter schools, community schools, juvenile court schools and other alternative school settings (excluding homeschool).

Vaccines are the best defense we have against serious, preventable and sometimes deadly contagious diseases. They help avoid expensive therapies and hospitalization needed to treat infectious diseases like influenza and meningitis. Immunizations also reduce absences both at school and after school activities and decrease the spread of illness at home, school and the community.

The CDC currently recommends the following vaccines for preteens and teens:

  • Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (Tdap)
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Meningococcal Disease (MenACWY)

Georgia Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week is an opportunity to raise awareness through schools, health care providers and the media regarding preteen immunizations, particularly Georgia’s pertussis and meningococcal requirements for incoming seventh-grade students. Speak with your physician today to find out if your preteen is up-to-date.
For more information, click here.

Free HIV Testing in Griffin, GA

Free HIV testing will be offered in Griffin, GA March 15th & 16th. Free gift card will be provided to the first 10 people to get tested!

Friday, March 15th: 1:00 -2:30 pm  at The IRIS | 859 Park Pointe Rd| Griffin, GA and 2:45 – 4:00pm at The Terraces | 854 Westbrook St | Griffin, GA

Saturday, March 16th: 11:00 am – 12:00 pm  at Fairmont | 211 Quincy Ave | Griffin, GA and 12:15 – 1:00 pm at The Oaks | 420 Park Rd | Griffin, GA

The only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested. CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information to help you take steps to keep you and your partner healthy. Here’s where you can get more information about testing.


Heart-Healthy Valentine’s Day

This Valentine’s Day celebrate love and life with your heart in mind.

  1. Instead of tempting your sweetie with sweets show off your creative side. Buy a variety of naturally sweet fresh fruits of your choice that are in season. Cut the fruit into pieces and dip them into melted dark chocolate. Dark-chocolate covered fruit are a great alternative to a traditional box of chocolates and are full of vitamins & antioxidants.
  2. Quality time is one of the most meaningful gifts. Plan to do something together that keeps you both moving. Go for a walk, bicycle ride or plan something more adventurous.
  3. Cooking at home is an excellent way to control what and how much you eat. Heart-healthy and recipe ideas.
  4. Have little Valentine’s? Take a few minutes to make fruit & cheese kabobs. All you need is cut fruit, low-fat cheese, toothpicks, and sweet little love quotes to assemble a deliciously colorful fruit and cheese kabob for your sweetheart. Stick a little paper love note at the top of each kabob to make each one special.
  5. Give to one another by giving back. Ask your love to volunteer with you at a local organization. Giving back is a healthy habit that can boost your mood and help beat stress.
  6. Use this day as an opportunity to tell your loved one how important they are to you, and share ways that you can support each other’s health and wellness. Get started by learning your numbers and why they are important.
  7. Sharing is caring – if you go out for a romantic dinner date, order one entrée to share or ask for a to-go box up front. Many restaurant servings are enough for two – splitting will keep you from overdoing it.
  8. Take it slow – if you receive an indulgent box of chocolates from your sweetie, stick it in the freezer and enjoy in moderation over the next several weeks.
  9. Technology for your heart – There are so many wearable fitness monitors on the market right now.
  10. Instead of buying a traditional bouquet of grocery store flowers, visit the produce section and create a colorful bouquet of edible flowers and plants that promote good health and may be given as a gift option.

FREE HIV Testing

Free HIV testing will be offered 10am-1pm & 2pm-4pm on February 14, 2019 at the Henry County Health Department. Free gift cards will be provided to the first 30 people to get tested!

The only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested. CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information to help you take steps to keep you and your partner healthy. Here’s where you can get more information about testing.

Henry County Health Department
135 Henry Parkway
McDonough, GA 30253