District 4 Public Health

Clinic appointment: 1-800-847-4262
WIC appointment: 1-706-298-6080

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

First Human Case of West Nile Virus

First Human Case of West Nile Virus
Confirmed In Georgia
Georgians Urged to Protect Themselves from Mosquitoes

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed the state’s first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) of the season on August 7. The patient is an adult from Metro Atlanta and has recovered. Most people get WNV after being bitten by an infected mosquito and mosquitoes are still biting into the fall months in Georgia. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) urges Georgians to protect themselves against mosquitoes.
“Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes that may be infected with West Nile virus,” said Rosmarie Kelly, Ph.D., MPH, Georgia Department of Public Health entomologist. “In the heat of summer, it can take less than 10 days to go from egg to adult mosquito.”
Residents can reduce the number of mosquitoes around their homes by emptying standing water from containers – flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths – anything that holds water and gives mosquitoes a place to thrive. The most effective way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites and the best way to do that is to observe the “Five D’s of WNV Prevention.”
• 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.
• DEET – Cover exposed skin with an insect repellent containing the 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 WNV should speak to their healthcare provider or call their local county health department, environmental health office.
More information on WNV and mosquito repellents can be found at www.cdc.gov/westnile.

Fayette ‘Wellness Walk’ is Complete

District 4 Public Health partnered with Fayetteville Main Street/Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to establish a ‘Wellness Walk’. The path is a 1-mile route around downtown Fayetteville with minimal stops for crossing intersections. The purpose of the ‘Wellness Walk’ is to encourage physical activity among residents and visitors to the area.


Downtown Fayetteville is pedestrian-friendly with several historic landmarks within walking distance of the square. An attractive ‘Wellness Walk’ highlighting the historic buildings is an ideal way for people to engage in physical activity and also learn about the history of the area.

The Fayetteville Main Street/DDA partnered with the City of Fayetteville to complete the downtown sidewalk enhancements that included brick inlays, benches, street lights and trash receptacles along a major portion of the walking path. A colorful tri-fold flyer with trail map/directions was developed that will designate the route and highlight the historic points of interest.


Standing flyer boxes with card holders have been strategically placed along the path to hold the map. The City of Fayetteville Public Works Department have installed the flyer boxes every quarter mile along with mile marker posts made from recycled plastic lumber. While enjoying a walk, take time to also view the artwork on the posts done by students at Inman Park Elementary, Oak Grove Elementary, Flat Rock Middle and Fayette County High School.

The population of the City of Fayetteville is 15,000. All will have access to the ‘Wellness Walk.’ Approximately 200 adults and youth are currently using the downtown sidewalks with an estimated 10% increase after completion of the project. An average 200-pound person expends about 100 calories for every mile walked at a 20 minute-mile pace. Joggers burn about 135 calories per mile.

Also included in the tri-fold flyer is a table that estimates how many calories you will burn on the Wellness Walk. Fayetteville has transformed a public space into an opportunity for people of all ages to engage in regular physical activity to improve their health.

Decreased physical activity has been related to several disease conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, stroke, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and premature mortality, independent of obesity.


Georgia Department of Public Health Unveils Low THC Registry

Today, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) unveiled the “Low THC Oil Registry” required by HB 1, the “Haleigh’s Hope Act.” The registry is a secure database of patients authorized to possess cannabinoid oil in Georgia. Patients and caregivers of patients who believe they may be eligible should consult with their physician about the possibility of obtaining a card allowing them to possess 20 fluid ounces of low THC oil.

“Today marks a milestone for the state of Georgia and the Department of Public Health,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., DPH commissioner and state health officer. “Implementing HB 1 has been no small task, but individuals suffering from conditions listed in the law now have another treatment option available to them. The secure cards we developed will ensure only those who are legally allowed to possess low THC oil for medical purposes will be able to do so, and we are confident the electronic registry we have created will serve doctors and their patients quickly and efficiently long into the future.”

HB 1 allows individuals to legally possess up to 20 fluid ounces of low THC (5 percent by weight) cannabinoid oil in the state of Georgia, provided they have obtained verification from a physician with whom they have an established relationship. Individuals seeking verification must have lived in Georgia for at least one calendar year, or be less than one year old, and be currently suffering from one of the following eight conditions:

1. Cancer, when the disease has reached end stage, or the treatment produces related wasting illness, recalcitrant nausea and vomiting;
2. Seizure disorders related to diagnosis of epilepsy or trauma related head injuries;
3. Severe or end stage amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease);
4. Severe or end stage multiple sclerosis,
5. Severe or end stage Parkinson’s disease;
6. Severe or end stage sickle cell disease;
7. Crohn’s disease; and
8. Mitochondrial disease.

If a patient or a patient’s caregiver meets the criteria to possess low THC oil, their physician would then enter their information in DPH’s online Low THC Oil Registry. Once the information has been entered and reviewed by DPH, a card will be issued to the individual(s) who applied. Please allow 15 business days to receive a card.

“Low THC Oil Registry” cards will cost $25 each – the standard fee for obtaining a vital record in Georgia – and will be valid for two years from the date issued. After that time, cardholders will need to again consult with their physician about their continued eligibility and to request that they update and confirm their information into the registry.

The decision about whether or not a physician wishes to certify an eligible individual is left entirely to their discretion. The registration process has been established by Georgia law, and it does not violate any state or federal laws. Physicians also will not risk their medical license by registering patients.

HB 1 does not address how low THC oil is made, purchased or shipped. Neither DPH nor physicians will prescribe or dispense low THC oil. The new law also does not legalize the possession or sale of marijuana in plant form.

The registry, as well as detailed information for the general public, physicians and law enforcement, will be maintained on the DPH website.

Community Collaboration and Networking Event 07.01.15

07.01.15_Regional Meeting dw_001[1] copy

This is an opportunity for you to:
· Strengthen existing relationships
· Establish new partnerships
· Learn about available resources and potential referrals
· Meet local health leaders
· Improve community health outcomes
· Share qualitative and quantitative data

We are seeking accreditation from the National Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). This national accreditation will provide our health departments the ability to improve quality, access, services, value, and accountability to stake holders within the communities we serve.

A pre-requisite to the accreditation process requires us to complete community health assessments. This meeting is the first of many to collaborate and share our findings with our community partners on a regional level. The meeting provides a venue to form new relationships and/or strengthen existing partnerships with a variety of human services organizations that serve the District 4 Public Health Community.

Attendees to this FREE event will have the opportunity to briefly share the latest and greatest information about their organizations in a casual and collaborative environment. Organizations include representatives from:

· Regional hospitals
· Regional health departments
· Regional Emergency Management Agencies
· Regional Emergency Medical Service Agencies
· Regional Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC’s)

We ask that each participant provide a short (3-5 minute) overview of the following topics:
· Community that you serve
· Geographic area where you serve
· Available resources/services provided
· Opportunities to partner

Lite bites and refreshments will be provided.

Attendance is limited. Please RSVP to allie.crawford@dph.ga.gov no later than June 15, 2015.

Thank you and we hope to see you there!

Celebrating Healthy and Safe Swimming Week 2015

Share the Fun, Not the Germs: Celebrating Healthy and Safe Swimming Week 2015

Next Monday will be an exciting day for Georgia’s families as they celebrate Memorial Day and enjoy a long day by the pool.

In preparation for one of the busiest swimming days of the year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Georgia Department of Public Health’s (DPH) Environmental Health Section are celebrating the 11th annual Healthy and Safe Swimming Week this year on May 18 – 24.

Coordinated the week prior to Memorial Day, Healthy and Safe Swimming Week raises awareness about recreational water illnesses (RWIs), pool injuries, outbreaks, drowning among aquatics and beach staff, pool owners and swimmers.

This year’s theme, “Make a Healthy Splash: Share the Fun, Not the Germs,” places a spotlight on the importance of hygienic practices that reduce the spread of communicable illnesses while engaging in water activities. Continue reading


National Infant Immunization Week

This is National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) urges all Georgians to protect infants from vaccine-preventable diseases by ensuring our little ones and everyone around them, are vaccinated and up-to-date on their immunization schedules.

“Vaccines are crucial to protecting children before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases,” said Sheila Lovett, Interim Director of the Georgia Immunization Program. “Immunization is a shared responsibility and we as parents, family, friends and health care providers can help keep our children and our communities protected by staying current on our immunization schedule. We urge parents to speak with their pediatrician or health care provider at every visit to make sure their infant is up-to-date on vaccinations.”

According to the most recent data available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Immunization Survey, Georgia immunization rates for Tdap were below the national average, ranking them 39th compared to other states. Similar to national trends, the number of pertussis cases in Georgia increased in 2014 with 396 pertussis cases reported to DPH compared to the 269 cases reported in 2013. Of those 396 pertussis cases reported in 2014, 99 (26.8%) were infants < 12 months of age.

NIIW is a call to action for parents, caregivers and health care providers to ensure that infants are fully vaccinated against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases.


For those who are underinsured or whose parents or guardians may not be able to afford them, there is the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. The VCF program helps children get their vaccines according to the recommended immunization schedule and has contributed directly to a substantial increase in childhood immunization coverage levels, making a significant contribution to the elimination of disparities in vaccination coverage among young children.

The Georgia Department of Public Health encourages everyone – in observance of National Infant Immunization Week – to protect the little ones who cannot yet protect themselves: contact your pediatrician or your local public health department to ensure your infant is up-to-date on vaccinations.

For more information on vaccinations, click here.

101 Georgia School Districts Tobacco-Free

More than half – 101 out of 181 – Georgia school districts are now tobacco-free. Emanuel County Schools, Lowndes County Schools and Jenkins County Schools all recently implemented Georgia’s 100% Tobacco-Free School policy leading to this milestone in the Georgia Department of Public Health’s (DPH) work to protect the state’s children from the harmful effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke.

Under the 100% Tobacco-Free School policy no student, staff member or school visitor is permitted to use any tobacco product or E-cigarette, at any time on school property. Eighty Georgia school districts have not signed the policy.

“Tobacco-free schools save lives,” said Jean O’Connor, JD, DrPH, director of Chronic Disease Prevention for DPH. “Ninety percent of Georgia’s smokers started using tobacco before the age of 18, and by eliminating tobacco use—including e-cigarettes—in schools, we can reduce the likelihood children in Georgia will start to use tobacco as well as protect children and adults from the effects of secondhand smoke.”

Tobacco use causes heart disease, cancer, diabetes and premature death. In a young person, smoking can damage the heart and lungs right away and in some cases, the damage never goes away. Studies show that eliminating tobacco smoke in an environment can reduce the incidence of heart attack related hospital admissions by between 10 and 40 percent.

“Young people are extremely sensitive to nicotine and the younger they are when they start using tobacco, the more likely they are to develop addiction to nicotine, and begin a lifetime of chronic disease,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “That makes prevention in Georgia schools right now so critical.”

School districts can get help from local health departments to implement the 100% Tobacco-Free School policy. Each Health District in Georgia has a health promotion coordinator who can present the policy to the local school board and work with school administrators to implement it. In addition, youth empowerment teams will disseminate anti-smoking messages through media and social media.

District 4 Public Health is proud to have 11 of the 12 counties in our service area with 100% tobacco-free school districts and two counties with 100% tobacco-free parks and recreation facilities.

All Georgians, including students, 13 to 17 years old, can call the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line at 1-877-270-STOP (7867) or 1-877-2NO-FUME (877-266-3863) and receive confidential counseling on how to quit smoking.

For more information about the harmful effects of smoking and tobacco use in young people, click here. To learn more about DPH’s efforts to help schools become tobacco-free, visit the Chronic Disease Prevention section’s Tobacco-Free and Smoke-Free environments website.


Cervical Cancer Awareness

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. All women are at risk for cervical cancer. It occurs most often in women over age 30. Each year, about 12,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer and about 4,000 women die from it.




Two tests can help prevent cervical cancer—

The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix that may become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately. You should start getting Pap tests at age 21.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes.
The most important thing you can do to help prevent cervical cancer is to have regular screening tests starting at age 21.

Tamika’s Cancer Survivor Story

tamika_200Tamika F. was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer at 25 years old. Read her story and the stories of other survivors here.




Prevent Cervical Cancer with the right test at the right time. Screening tests can find abnormal cells so they can be treated before they turn into cancer.

More ways to reduce risk of Cervical Cancer.

Know your body and Gynecologic Cancer Symptoms

It is important to pay attention to what is normal for you and see a doctor is something isn’t quite right. This chart lists gynecologic cancers and some symptoms but not all symptoms. If you have questions or concerns please see your doctor.


Vaccination Remains The Best Protection Against The Flu

December 5, 2014

ATLANTA – Getting a flu vaccination is the first and most important step in protecting against flu and its potentially serious complications. National Influenza Vaccination Week is Dec. 7-13 and if you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, now is a good time to do so.

This flu season is likely to be a tough one for two reasons. First, more than 90 percent of the influenza specimens tested nationwide are Influenza A H3N2 (H3N2), and the rates of hospitalization and deaths are typically higher in seasons when H3N2 is the dominant strain. Second, about half of the H3N2 viruses found so far this flu season don’t match the vaccine produced for the 2014-2015 season. The virus has mutated, or changed slightly, since the vaccine was formulated early this year.

While the flu can vary from season to season, the fact remains the single most effective way to prevent the flu is the flu vaccine.

continue reading


Consumer Food Safety Education

This training video, featuring Tracsa Manson, Evironmental Health Specialist 3 from Henry County was aired at the 2014 Consumer Food Safety Education Conference in Arlington Virginia on December 4-5, 2014, hosted by the Partnership For Food Safety Education. The Consumer Food Safety Education Conference 2014 was arranged to aid consumer education specialist, food safety education specialist and regulatory officials across the country in improving consumer outreach and reaching program goals. The conference was attended by over 350 food safety professionals in Arlington, Virginia and the live broadcast streaming online reached over thousands of health and food safety officials across the country.


Translate »