The Coastal Health District of Georgia serves the counties of Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long & McIntosh

Camden News

Post-Irma Beach Water Testing Update

Testing for elevated levels of enterococcus (pronounced: en·ter·o·coc·cus), bacteria which is found in warm blooded animals including humans but also birds, raccoons, deer, dolphins and other wildlife, resumed this week after testing was suspended due to Hurricane Irma. Beaches in Chatham and Glynn counties showed results that are within normal limits; therefore, advisories for these areas have been lifted.  There is one exception: North Beach at Dexter Lane (from the old North picnic area to Brice Lane). Beach access was blocked in that area so no testing could be performed.

The following areas are only tested once a month and have not been tested since August:

  • Skidaway Narrows (Butterbean Beach) in Chatham County
  • Contentment Bluff Sandbar and Dallas Bluff Sandbar in McIntosh County
  • Reimolds Pasture, Sea Island North, Sea Island South, and Blythe Island Sandbar in Glynn County.

Since no testing has been performed at North Beach at Dexter Lane on Jekyll Island or at any of the areas mentioned in bullet points above, The Coastal Health District recommends you do not swim or wade in the water in those areas. Fish and other seafood caught from those areas should be thoroughly washed with fresh water and thoroughly cooked before eating as should fish or seafood caught from any waters.

The areas will be retested and results will be shared once that happens. For more information about beach water testing, click HERE.

DPH Urges Safety Precautions After Irma

Keep Yourself and Your Loved Ones Safe By Following Basic Safety Tips

ATLANTA – Hurricane/tropical storm Irma is no longer a threat but recovering from the storm will take weeks, and even longer in some parts of the state. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is urging Georgians to use extreme caution particularly in the next few days as residents return to their homes, power is restored and damage assessments are made. The storm may be over, but that doesn’t mean the danger is.

Be careful near damaged buildings

  • Do not return to your home until you are told it is safe to do so.
  • Return during daylight hours, when it is easier to avoid hazards, particularly if the electricity is off.
  • Do not enter your home if you are unsure of structural integrity.
  • Leave immediately if you hear shifting or unusual noises.
  • If you smell gas or suspect a leak, notify emergency authorities or the gas company immediately and leave the area.

Stay away from power lines

  • Stay clear of fallen power lines – be particularly careful of power lines that may be hidden in fallen trees and branches.
  • Watch out for power lines dangling overhead.
  • Report downed power lines to emergency authorities or the power company immediately.

Avoid floodwater

  • Always follow warnings about flooded roads.
  • Don’t drive through floodwater – it may be deeper than you think.
  • Keep in mind that floodwater often carries germs. If you touch it, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water. If you don’t have soap or water, use alcohol-based wipes or sanitizer.

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • Never use a generator inside your home or garage, even if doors and windows are open.
  • Only use generators outside, more than 20 feet away from your home, doors and windows.
  • Install battery-operated or battery backup CO detectors near every sleeping area in your home.

Identify and throw away food that may not be safe to eat

  • When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Throw away food that has an unusual odor, color or texture.
  • Throw away perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) in your refrigerator when the power has been off for four hours or more.
  • Thawed food that contains ice crystals can be refrozen or cooked. Freezers, if left unopened and full, will keep food safe for 48 hours (24 hours if half full).
  • Throw away canned foods that are bulging, opened or damaged.

Check water quality

  • Listen and follow all drinking water advisories and use bottled water when in doubt.
  • Do not drink water from private wells that have/may have been flooded.
  • Disinfect all private wells that may have been flooded before drinking water.

Protect yourself from animals and pests

  • Floods can bring mosquitoes that carry disease – use insect repellent with DEET or Picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus. Follow label directions.
  • Wear long sleeves, pants and socks when you’re outside.
  • Stay away from wild or stray animals after a storm – call 911 or your local public health department to report them.

Prevent mold

  • Protect yourself by wearing gloves, masks and goggles.
  • Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected (such as mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings and paper products) within 24-48 hours.
  • Remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or floodwaters within 24-48 hours.
  • Ventilate by opening all doors and windows.
  • Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, appliances, sinks and other plumbing fixtures) with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.


For more information go to:

About the Georgia Department of Public Health

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is the lead agency in preventing disease, injury and disability; promoting health and well-being; and preparing for and responding to disasters from a health perspective. For more information visit:

Swimming in the Ocean Not Advised Under Current Conditions

The Coastal Health District and Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Coastal Resources Division, advise against swimming or wading in the ocean due to the possibility of hazards including rip currents, elevated bacteria levels, and debris in the water.

Testing for elevated levels of enterococcus (pronounced: en·ter·o·coc·cus), bacteria which is found in warm blooded animals including humans but also birds, raccoons, deer, dolphins and other wildlife, is currently suspended/temporarily unavailable. Testing will resume as soon as possible.

For more information about beach water testing, click HERE.

Residents with Functional, Access, or Medical Needs Urged to Register with Health Department

Public health officials strongly encourage residents in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties who may have functional, access, or medical needs and no way to evacuate – should that become necessary – register with their county health department. The Functional, Access, and Medical Needs Registry is made up of residents who may require transport and medical assistance during a hurricane evacuation and have no other resources such as family, friends, neighbors, or church members to help them if they need to evacuate. Residents must apply to be on the Registry.

Those on the Registry will be evacuated to an American Red Cross shelter in an inland county that will likely be in a gymnasium or similar setting and could be several hours away. The Registry is truly a last resort, but if a hurricane is threatening our area, it is important that health department officials know where the most vulnerable residents are located so that evacuation assistance can be provided to them. People living in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and personal care homes are not eligible for the Functional, Access, and Medical Needs and must follow their facility’s emergency plan.

Functional and Access Needs registrants are individuals who may need services to maintain their independence in a shelter. This includes children and adults with physical, sensory, mental health, and cognitive and/or intellectual disabilities affecting their ability to function independently without assistance. Medical Needs registrants are individuals who require support of trained medical professionals. This includes those individuals who may need assistance with managing unstable, terminal, or contagious conditions that require observation and ongoing treatment.

The application and protected health information authorization form can be downloaded HERE.
Residents can also call the following numbers for more information:

Bryan County
912-756-2611 or 912-653-4331

Camden County
912-882-8515 or 912-576-3040

Chatham County

Effingham County

Glynn County

Liberty County

Long County

McIntosh County

West Nile Virus Infections Increase in Georgia; Georgians Urged to Protect Themselves from Mosquito Bites

From the Georgia Department of Public Health
August 31, 2017

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed nearly 20 human cases of West Nile virus so far this year, including at least three deaths. Georgians are urged to protect themselves from mosquito bites, especially when they are outside this Labor Day weekend.

“Georgians can reduce the number of mosquitoes around their homes and yards by getting rid of standing water,” said Chris Rustin, Ph.D., DPH director of Environmental Health. “Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes that may be infected with West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.”

Tip ‘n Toss all containers that can collect water – flowerpots, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths – anything that holds water and gives mosquitoes a place to thrive. Mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus look for stagnant water to breed in, so be sure gutters and eaves are clear of leaves and debris.

The most effective way to protect against WNV infection and all mosquito-borne diseases, including Zika, is to prevent mosquito bites. Observe the “Five D’s of Prevention” during your outdoor activities this holiday weekend:

  • 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 WNV or Zika 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 by clicking mosquito-borne illness.

About the Georgia Department of Public Health

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is the lead agency in preventing disease, injury and disability; promoting health and well-being; and preparing for and responding to disasters from a health perspective. DPH’s main functions include: Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Maternal and Child Health, Infectious Disease and Immunization, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Emergency Medical Services, Pharmacy, Nursing, Volunteer Health Care, the Office of Health Equity, Vital Records, and the State Public Health Laboratory. For more information visit:

Solar Eclipse Safety Tips

On Monday, August 21, Georgia will be among 14 states to experience a total eclipse of the sun. The Georgia Department of Public Health reminds those who will watch the solar eclipse that it’s never safe to look directly at the sun, or eye damage may occur.

Viewing the solar eclipse should be done through “eclipse glasses” that meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard. See the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers for a list of dealers of eclipse glasses.

Retinal damage to eyes may occur while attempting to stare at the sun. Solar retinopathy is a result of too much ultraviolet light flooding the retina. Never look directly at the sun without proper protection – using ISO 12312-2 lenses. If you damage your eyes trying to view the solar eclipse, please contact your healthcare provider.

NASA’s additional recommendations for safe eclipse viewing are:

  • Stand still, and put on your eclipse glasses before looking up at the eclipse. Turn away to remove your eclipse glasses — do not remove them while looking at the sun.
  • Do not look at the eclipse through a camera, a telescope or binoculars while using your eclipse glasses — the sun will damage the filter and your eyes.
  • Always inspect your eclipse glasses before use; if scratched or damaged, do not use.
  • Supervise children viewing the eclipse.
  • Remove your eclipse glasses only when the moon completely covers the sun and it gets dark. Then, as soon as the sun begins to reappear, put your eclipse glasses back on.

The last time the U.S. saw a total eclipse was 1979. During this year’s eclipse, the moon will fully block the sun for two minutes and 40 seconds. Only the northeast corner of Georgia will experience this; the rest of the state will see a partial eclipse. The moon will pass between the Earth and the sun, blocking all or part of the sun, for up to three hours.

Learn more about safely viewing the solar eclipse at:

World Breastfeeding Week Events Scheduled August 4 and 5

The Coastal Health District Women, Infants, and Children’s (WIC) nutrition program will hold two World Breastfeeding Week celebrations in early August. The first event will take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, August 4 at Jekyll Island Square on Newcastle Street in Brunswick and the second event will take place from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday, August 5, at the Forsyth Farmers’ Market in Savannah. The celebrations will include public walks, prize giveaways, and information on the benefits of breastfeeding. All events are free and family friendly.

Those who register for the events by going to will receive a free T-shirt while supplies last.

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated during the first week in August every year in more than 170 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.  This year’s theme is “Sustaining breastfeeding together” and is focused on working together for the common good. The key to best breastfeeding practices is continued day-to-day support for breastfeeding mothers within their home and community. The Coastal Health District is committed to helping mothers breastfeed their babies because breastfeeding is so important for good health. Breast milk is easy to digest, with just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein for a baby’s growth and development. Breastfed babies usually get sick less often, because breast milk contains antibodies that can protect infants from bacterial and viral infections.

For more information on the objectives of World Breastfeeding Week 2017, click HERE.

For more information on the scheduled Coastal Health District events, contact Monica Lightfoot at

Boil Water Advisory Lifted for City of St. Marys

The Boil Water Notice that was issued by the City of St. Marys has been lifted.  Free chlorine residual measurements and coliform bacteria samples were collected from enough sites to adequately represent all areas of the distribution system, following the Environmental Protection Division’s recommendations.  Free chlorine residuals were detected throughout the distribution system and all microbiological tests were performed by a certified laboratory and were negative for total coliform bacteria. A copy of the laboratory results are being sent to the Environmental Protection Division, and based upon the laboratory results, the City of St. Marys has decided to rescind the boil water notice effective immediately.  Thank you for your understanding as the City worked through the process of ensuring that the microbiological quality of the water in the distribution system is safe for human consumption.

If you should have any questions please call St. Marys Public Works at 882-4415.

Back to School Clinics Scheduled

It won’t be long before the new school year begins and health departments in the Coastal Health District want to help parents beat the back to school rush by holding clinics that are focused on providing the screenings and immunizations that students need before starting school.* Students will be seen on a first come, first served basis and no appointment is necessary.

Students entering a Georgia school for the first time – no matter what the grade level –  must have a completed Certificate of Vision, Hearing, Dental, and Nutrition screening form. “First time” means never enrolled in a Georgia school before at any time in their lives.

In addition, children born on or after January 1, 2002 who are attending seventh grade and new entrants into Georgia schools in grades 8 through 12 must have received one dose of Tdap vaccine and one dose of meningococcal vaccine. (“New entrant” means any child entering any school in Georgia for the first time or entering after having been absent from a Georgia school for more than 12 months or one school year).

The following health departments have scheduled back to school clinics:

Chatham County Health Department, 1395 Eisenhower Drive, Savannah
*Wednesday, July 12
8:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.

*Thursday, July 25
8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

*(Free eye, ear, dental, and nutrition screenings)

Camden County Health Department, 1501 Georgia Ave., Woodbine and 905 Dilworth St., St. Marys

*Thursday, July 20
1 p.m. – 6 p.m.

*(Free eye, ear, dental, and nutrition screenings)

Liberty County Health Department, 1113 E. Oglethorpe Hwy. Hinesville
Thursday, July 20
8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Thursday, July 29
8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Tuesday, August 1
8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Long County Health Department, 584 N. Macon Street, Ludowici
Tuesday, July 25
8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.

McIntosh County Health Department, 1335 Hwy. 57, Townsend
Tuesday, August 1
1 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.


*The health departments listed above have chosen to focus immunization and screening efforts on specific days to make it convenient for parents; however, those health departments – along with the other Coastal Health District health departments –  offer immunizations and Vision, Hearing, Dental, and Nutrition screening on a daily basis.

For more information, please contact Your County Health Department.

Georgia Department of Public Health commissioner named head of Atlanta-based CDC


July 7, 2017 – from the office of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal:

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced the appointment of Dr. J. Patrick O’Neal, current director of Health Protection for the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), as interim commissioner of DPH, effective immediately. The vacancy was created by the appointment of Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, current commissioner of DPH, as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by President Donald Trump.

“I am immensely proud of my friend and colleague Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, and I am grateful to her for her tireless work to promote the health and well-being of Georgia’s citizens,” said Deal. “She has been an asset to the State of Georgia and I know she will bring the same determination and persistence to her new role of CDC director, working for the good of the entire country. I want to thank President Trump for naming one of our own to this prominent role and I am confident Dr. O’Neal will be able to successfully pick up where Brenda left off at DPH.”

“I am humbled by the challenges that lie ahead, yet I am confident that the successes we’ve had in Georgia will provide me with a foundation for guiding the work of the CDC,” said Fitzgerald. “The progress we’ve made in Georgia around early brain development, childhood obesity and creating a model for addressing the Ebola epidemic would not have been possible without the full support of Governor Deal and a dedicated public health staff.”


Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D.

Fitzgerald formerly served as the commissioner of DPH and as State Health Officer. She is a board-certified Obstetrician-Gynecologist and practiced medicine for more than three decades before coming to Public Health in 2011. As Commissioner, Fitzgerald oversaw various state public health programs including Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Health Protection, Georgia WIC, Office of Pharmacy, Nursing, Volunteer Health Care and Vital Records. She also directed the state’s 18 public health districts. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from Georgia State University and a medical degree from the Emory University School of Medicine. As a Major in the United States Air Force, Fitzgerald served at the Wurtsmith Air Force Strategic Air Command Base in Michigan and at the Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C.



J. Patrick O’Neal, M.D.

O’Neal serves as the Director of Health Protection for DPH, overseeing more than a dozen public health programs including Epidemiology, Infectious Disease and Immunization, Emergency Preparedness and the Georgia Public Health Lab. He is also the medical director for the Office of EMS and Trauma. O’Neal previously practiced emergency medicine for 29 years at DeKalb Medical Center and also served as the regional medical director for EMS throughout the Metro Atlanta area. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Davidson College and a medical degree from the Tulane University School of Medicine. Following medical school, O’Neal entered the United States Air Force for training in flight medicine and later served as a flight surgeon in Vietnam.