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Georgia Counties Share Car Seat Mini Grant

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Public Health’s (DPH), Injury Prevention Program, Child Occupant Safety Project, is pleased to announce the 2019 recipients of the Child Passenger Safety Mini-Grant. The Child Passenger Safety Mini-Grant program helps county health departments and their community partners reduce the number of injuries and deaths among children in Georgia. This year’s $166,000 award will be used to support the purchase of car seats to be distributed in over 107 Georgia counties. Funding for these efforts is provided by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS).

And it works! Since 2007, the education, car seats and booster seats provided through the Mini Grant prevented serious injury or death and has saved over 375 of Georgia’s children who were involved in crashes.

“Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children and it’s up to all of us to do everything we can to protect our children on the road,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “Buckling up our children is the best way to save lives and reduce injuries.”

Throughout Georgia, DPH and county health departments work with community partners to educate parents and caregivers on how to properly install and use car seats, offer car seat inspections and provide car seats and booster seats to financially eligible families. Through the Car Seat Mini-Grant, agencies supporting more than 143 counties are working to keep Georgia’s children safe. These programs help families get their children buckled up right, every trip, every time.

DPH takes great pride in providing opportunities to enhance community outreach programs in Georgia. Through our collective efforts, we can make considerable strides in achieving our goals. For more information on the child Occupant Safety Project, please email injury@dph.ga.gov or call the office at 404-463-1487.

2020 County Mini Grant Awardees:

Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Banks, Barrow, Ben Hill, Berrien, Bibb, Brooks, Bryan, Bulloch, Burke, Butts, Camden, Carroll, Charlton, Chatham, Chattahoochee, Cherokee, Clarke, Clay, Clayton, Cobb, Coffee, Colquitt, Columbia, Cook, Crawford, Crisp, Dade, Dawson, DeKalb, Dougherty, Douglas, Early, Echols, Elbert, Fannin, Fayette, Forsyth, Franklin, Fulton, Gilmer, Glynn, Gordon, Greene, Habersham, Haralson, Harris, Hart, Henry, Houston, Irvin, Jasper, Jeff Davis, Jones, Lamar, Lanier, Laurens, Lee, Liberty, Lincoln, Long, Lowndes, Macon, Marion, McDuffie, McIntosh, Meriwether, Morgan, Murray, Muscogee, Newton, Oconee, Paulding, Pickens, Pike, Polk, Quitman, Randolph, Richmond, Rockdale, Schley, Spalding, Stephens, Stewart, Sumter, Taliaferro, Tattnall, Telfair, Terrell, Thomas, Tift, Troup, Twiggs, Union, Upson, Walton, Ware, Warren, Washington, Webster, White, Whitfield, Wilcox, Wilkinson, Worth.

Widespread flu activity

If you have not gotten a flu shot yet, do not wait any longer. Flu is widespread throughout Georgia.

Flu symptoms and their intensity can vary from person to person, and can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. If you think you have the flu, call or visit your doctor.

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often with soap and water can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. There also are flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat and prevent flu.

Avoid close contact.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

Stay home when you are sick.
If you are sick with flu symptoms, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)

Cover your mouth and nose.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Flu and other serious respiratory illnesses, like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), are spread by cough, sneezing, or unclean hands.

Clean your hands.
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

Most people who get flu will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death.

When caring for people who have the flu keep them away from common areas of the house and other people as much as possible.

Get immediate medical care if the sick person experiences:
In children
Fast breathing or trouble breathing
Bluish lips or face
Ribs pulling in with each breath
Chest pain
Severe muscle pain (child refuses to walk)
Dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying)
Not alert or interacting when awake
Seizures
Fever above 104°F
In children less than 12 weeks, any fever
Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
Worsening of chronic medical conditions

In adults
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
Persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse
Seizures
Not urinating
Severe muscle pain
Severe weakness or unsteadiness
Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
Worsening of chronic medical conditions
These lists are not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptom that is severe or concerning.

District 4 Public Health One of First in Nation to Receive National Accreditation

District 4 Public Health announced today that it has achieved national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). The national accreditation program works to improve and protect the health of the public by advancing the quality and performance of the nation’s Tribal, state, local, and territorial public health departments. District 4 Public Health is one of the first of hundreds of health departments across the country that are preparing to seek accreditation through PHAB, the independent organization that administers the national public health accreditation program.

“We are pleased and excited to be one of the first health departments in the nation and one of 5 health districts Georgia to achieve national standards that foster effectiveness and promote continuous quality improvement,” said Olugbenga Obasanjo, District Health Director. “The accreditation process helps to ensure that the programs and services we provide are as responsive as possible to the needs of our community. With accreditation, District 4 is demonstrating increased accountability and credibility to the public, funders, elected officials and partner organizations with which we work.”

The national accreditation program, jointly supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, sets standards against which the nation’s more than 3,000 governmental public health departments can continuously improve the quality of their services and performance. To receive accreditation, a health department must undergo a rigorous, multi-faceted, peerreviewed assessment process to ensure it meets or exceeds a set of quality standards and measures.

“Whenever you see our seal of accreditation, you will know that District 4 Public Health has been rigorously examined and meets or exceeds national standards that promote continuous quality improvement for public health,” Hayla Folden, public information officer said. ”By continuing to improve our services and performance, we can be sure we are meeting the public health needs of those we serve as effectively as possible.”

Public health departments play a critical role in protecting and improving the health of people and communities. In cities, towns, and states across the nation, health departments provide a range of services aimed at promoting healthy behaviors; preventing diseases and injuries; ensuring access to safe food, water, clean air, and life-saving immunizations; and preparing for and responding to public health emergencies.

“District 4 Public Health is one of the first of many health departments that we look forward to being able to recognize as a high-performing public health department,” said PHAB President and CEO Kaye Bender, PhD, RN, FAAN. “The peer-review process provides valuable feedback to inform health departments of their strengths and areas for improvement, so that they can better protect and promote the health of the people they serve in their communities.”

The national accreditation program was created collaboratively over a 10-year period by hundreds of public health practitioners working at the national, Tribal, state, and local levels. Since the program’s launch in September 2011, more than 230 health departments have applied to PHAB for accreditation, and hundreds of public health practitioners from across the nation have been trained to serve as volunteer peer site visitors for the program.

“Achieving accreditation indicates that District 4 Public Health is dedicated to improving and protecting the health of the community by striving to continuously improve the quality of the services it delivers,” said PHAB Board of Directors Chair Carol Moehrle, MD. “Accreditation also promotes consistency in meeting standards. With an ever-increasing number of health departments now applying for and becoming accredited, you will be able to expect to receive the same quality of public health services wherever you go in the United States.”

It’s not too late to vaccinate

Seasonal influenza activity in the United States remains low but is increasing, particularly in the southeast.

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. There also are flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat and prevent flu. The tips and resources below will help you learn about steps you can take to protect yourself and others from flu and help stop the spread of germs.

Avoid close contact.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

Stay home when you are sick.
If you are sick with flu symptoms, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)

Cover your mouth and nose.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Flu and other serious respiratory illnesses, like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), are spread by cough, sneezing, or unclean hands.

Clean your hands.
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

DPH Identifies 14 Cases of Vaping-Associated Illnesses, Two Deaths

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has identified the state’s second death from a vaping-associated illness. The patient had a history of nicotine vaping, but the case is still being reviewed to determine if other substances also may have been used. The number of vaping-associated lung injury cases in Georgia is now 14, including two deaths. About 20 possible cases are under review. Cases range in age from 18 to 68 years (the median age is 31 years), and 71% are male.

The Georgia cases were hospitalized and developed pneumonia with no known infectious cause. Symptoms of vaping-associated lung injury, which worsen over time, include cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. People with a history of vaping who are experiencing breathing problems or any of these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.

More than 1,000 vaping-associated lung injuries have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including at least 18 deaths. No specific e-cigarette device or substance has been linked to all cases, although the CDC’s current investigation indicates products containing THC play a role in the outbreak.

DPH has issued a health advisory detailing the health risks of e-cigarettes, vaping devices and vaping products. The advisory and more information about vaping can be found at https://dph.georgia.gov/vapinglunginjury.

Outbreak of Lung Disease Associated with E-Cigarette Use or Vaping

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed three cases of severe respiratory illness in individuals who reported a history of vaping. About ten possible cases are currently being reviewed. Symptoms of the illness include cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, all of which worsen over time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed nearly 400 cases of lung illness reported from 36 states. Six deaths have been linked to the illness. All reported cases have a history of e-cigarette product use or vaping. Most patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette products containing THC. Many patients have reported using THC and nicotine. Some have reported the use of e-cigarette products containing only nicotine.

We do not yet know the specific cause of these illnesses, and the investigation has not identified any specific e-cigarette or vaping product (devices, liquids, refill pods, and/or cartridges) or substance that is linked to all cases. CDC recommends that you consider not using e-cigarette or vaping products until more is known about the cause of this vaping illness.

People who use e-cigarettes or vaping products should not buy these products (e.g., e-cigarette or vaping products with THC, other cannabinoids) off the street, and should not modify or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer.

DPH has requested that health care providers throughout Georgia ask patients presenting with severe respiratory illness about the use of products (devices, liquids, refill pods) used for vaping nicotine and/or THC, and report possible cases to the Georgia Poison Center. Patients with a history of vaping who are experiencing breathing problems should seek medical care.

E-cigarettes and other vaping devices are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women or adults who do not currently use tobacco products, according to the CDC. Use of these products can increase the possibility of addiction and long-term harm to brain development and respiratory health.

For more information about e-cigarettes and vaping, visit https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/about-e-cigarettes.html.

Dining with man’s best friend

Author: Galen Baxter

As Georgia strives to recognize changes in industry, usually driven by consumer demand, rules and regulations are updated to try and accommodate these trends. But as with all new things, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), which is tasked with protecting the lives of Georgia citizens and visitors, must take into consideration many factors before making decisions which could lead to increased risks of foodborne illnesses or other health hazards.

One example is the recent addition (2015) to the Georgia Food Service Rules and Regulations, Chapter 511-6-1, which allows food service establishments to offer an outdoor dining patio area where patrons can sit with their pet dogs. A recent survey by the American Veterinary Medical Association shows that 38 percent of households nationwide owned a dog. The Georgia Food Service Program, under the Environmental Health Section of DPH, recognized that restaurants were losing out to a segment of the population who value Fido as a family member. After researching regulations in other states, primarily in western U.S., it was determined that with special provisions in place by the restaurant, and approval from the local health department, diners could bring their pooch along with them to enjoy a meal or beverage in an outdoor patio area at their establishment.

So, what are the special provisions that a restaurant must adhere to if a dog-friendly patio is part of its ambience? First, the restaurant must have a patio designed in such a way that patrons can access the area directly from the outside without having to walk into, or through, the indoor dining room. The restaurant must notify all potential patrons that dogs are allowed on the patio with their owners (verbally or through signs.) Second, the establishment must develop and maintain on site, written procedures that clearly outline how employees will be trained and monitored to ensure that they do not touch, pet or handle the dogs while working; how accidents will be immediately cleaned-up and where the clean-up materials are located; procedures for how employees will ensure the dogs are not fed while on the patio and the methods used to prevent dogs from coming into contact with serving dishes, utensils and tableware; procedures for how employees will ensure that the dogs do not go into non-designated areas, get on tables, chairs or other furnishings while at the establishment; and that the dogs remain on a leash and under the customer’s control at all times.

There have been a few inquiries as to whether a restaurant can have a special “dog menu” from which pet owners can order food for their dog at the same time they order their food, so that they can eat simultaneously. Unfortunately, because there is an increased chance for dogs to bite when they are eating, and are more likely to poop or vomit after eating, DPH believes that this would increase the risk posed to the general public who visit the dining establishment and therefore created the food service rules to prohibit the feeding of dogs on the patio.

For more information, contact your local health department, or visit https://dph.georgia.gov/food-service, and click on the link for Rules, Documents and Forms to download a copy of the Georgia Food Service Rules and Regulations.

Are you at risk for Hepatitis A? Get Vaccinated.

District 4 Public Health is not seeing an increase in the number of people with hepatitis A at this time, but are urging vaccination against the highly contagious liver infection.

Since June 2018, the Georgia Department of Public Health has identified hundreds of acute hepatitis A virus infections statewide, and the numbers continue to increase. Georgia is one of many states experiencing an outbreak of the highly contagious liver infection.

Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Although rare, hepatitis A can cause death in some people. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. Hepatitis A can also spread from close personal contact with an infected person such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill.

Those most at risk of hepatitis A include:

• illicit (injection and non-injection) drug users,
• individuals who have a history of incarceration in jail or prison,
• men who have sex with men,
• close contacts of people with hepatitis A,
• homeless or transient individuals, and
• persons with close contact to someone with these risk factors.

The best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination with the hepatitis A vaccine. To get the full benefit of the hepatitis A vaccine, more than one shot is needed. Hepatitis A vaccine is available at your local health department. good hand hygiene – including thoroughly washing hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food – plays an important role in preventing the spread of hepatitis A.

If you have had Hepatitis A, you have lifelong immunity from the disease. Also, since hepatitis A vaccination is required for school-age children born on or after January 1, 2006, these individuals do not need vaccination.

Symptoms of hepatitis A can appear abruptly and can include:

Fever
Fatigue
Loss of appetite
Nausea
Vomiting
Abdominal pain
Dark urine
Diarrhea
Clay-colored stools
Joint pain
Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

A health care provider can determine if you have hepatitis A by discussing your symptoms and taking a blood sample. Health care providers should report patients with hepatitis A infection to their local public health department or by calling 1-866-PUB HLTH (1-866-782-4584).

More information on the multistate outbreak.

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).

Both campaigns claim that only 26 are marketed as male equivalents, and the idea that women should be the only ones with sex-ed. According to these advertisements, sildenafil – which was originally designed as a treatment for erectile dysfunction – and which has recently been marketed similarly, should be banned as a remedy for sexual dysfunction.

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.