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

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Free Mammogram Screening for Women Who Meet Eligibility

The Chatham County Health Department’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP) is partnering with the St. Joseph’s/Candler Mobile Mammography Program to offer free mammograms from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, January 30, at the Chatham County Health Department located at 1395 Eisenhower Drive. Women who meet certain annual income guidelines and are 40-64 years of age without insurance will be eligible to receive a screening mammogram at no cost.

Appointments are encouraged but walk-ins will be accepted. To make an appointment, please call 356-2946.

Raccoon Tests Positive for Rabies on St. Simons

A raccoon on Poplar Avenue on St. Simons Island has tested positive for rabies after coming into contact with a family dog. The dog is up-to-date on its rabies vaccination.

Several species of wild animals that are native to coastal Georgia – including raccoons, foxes, and bats – can carry rabies. Rabies is a potentially deadly virus that is primarily spread by infected animals. The Glynn County Health Department Environmental Health office offers these tips to protect you and your family from rabies:

  • Avoid contact with animals you don’t know.
  • Make sure your pets receive the proper immunizations. Dogs and cats should get rabies vaccines by four months of age, followed by a booster shot one year later, and another one every year as prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or by leaving pet food out at night.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or a properly licensed animal rescue agency for assistance.
  • Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn.

Symptoms of rabies in animals include a change in behavior, biting, aggression, showing no fear of natural enemies (such as humans), foaming at the mouth, and paralysis.

If an animal ever bites you, seek medical care immediately and contact Glynn County Animal Control at 912-554-7500 and the Glynn County Health Department Environmental Health Division at 279-2940.

Give Kids A Smile Event to be Held February 3

Local dentists in Chatham County along with the Georgia Dental Association will offer free dental cleanings and treatment for children ages 3-18 during a Give Kids A Smile event scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, February 3, at Savannah Technical College located at 5717 White Bluff Road in Savannah. Entrance and registration will be located at Eckburg Auditorium at the College.

Treatment will be provided free of charge on a first come, first served basis. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/savGKAS or call 912-355-7022.

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E-Cigarette Use Among Youth: A Public Health Threat Know the Risks and How to Get Help to Quit Tobacco and Nicotine

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is urging caution about the use and exposure of children and youth to electronic nicotine delivery systems, including electronic cigarettes. The U.S. Surgeon General issued a report this week on the dangers of electronic nicotine delivery systems saying “nicotine-containing products are unsafe for youth.”

Electronic nicotine delivery systems are known by a variety of names, including “vapes,” “e-cigarettes,” “pens” and “e-hookahs.” They come in thousands of flavors and colors. Parents, teachers, coaches, counselors and other youth leaders should be aware of the dangers of these products and that they can be made to look like pens and other small objects that can be hidden in plain sight.

It is against the law in Georgia to sell or distribute any electronic cigarette to a person who is under the age of 18. As of October 2014, it is against state policy to use these products on any University System of Georgia property. Federal law also prohibits sales of e-cigarettes to minors, restricts sales in vending machines, and requires these products to have a nicotine warning label.

Nicotine is a neurotoxin that can damage the developing adolescent brain by causing permanent changes and contributing to mental health problems and mood disorders as well as other health problems. In addition to nicotine, the aerosol from electronic nicotine delivery products may include formaldehyde, propylene glycol, lead and other toxic chemicals.

Use of electronic nicotine delivery systems or devices, particularly by youth, is associated with other tobacco use.

“We know youth and young adults are trying these unsafe products in increasing numbers. This is an emerging public health crisis that threatens the health of our youth and our progress in reducing dependence on tobacco statewide” said Jean O’Connor, JD, DrPH, director of Chronic Disease Prevention for DPH.

The emissions from e-cigarettes have not been proven to be safe for anyone. Along with the dangers to the developing youth brain, nicotine is a highly addictive chemical for people of all ages that causes hardening of the arteries, which is associated with heart attack and stroke. Pregnant women or women who may become pregnant should especially avoid using or being exposed to nicotine. It can impact fetal development, affecting the brain, nerves and circulatory systems.

Electronic cigarettes and similar electronic nicotine delivery devices have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as tobacco cessation devices. The only current safe and effective tools to quit nicotine and tobacco products are approved nicotine replacement therapy products, which contain controlled doses of nicotine.

Most people who want to quit tobacco or nicotine need help to end their addiction. Anyone, including teenagers, who needs help quitting tobacco or nicotine, should talk with their doctor. Help quitting tobacco is covered by Georgia Medicaid and other health plans. Or, they can contact the Georgia Tobacco Quitline for free, confidential support:

English: 1-877-270-STOP (877-270-7867)
Spanish: 1-877-2NO-FUME (877-266-3863)
Hearing Impaired: 1-877-777-6534

The Quitline is available 24/7. It is never too late to quit.

For more information visit dph.ga.gov/tobacco or email chronic.disease@dph.ga.gov

World AIDS Day 2016

World AIDS Day is observed on December 1 each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV, and commemorate people who have died. More than 1.2 million people in United States are living with HIV and nearly one in eight of them does not know it. The only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested. World AIDS Day is a global initiative to raise awareness, fight prejudice, and improve education about HIV and AIDS. The 2016 theme is “Leadership, Commitment, Impact.”

The Coastal Health District Prevention Program will offer free and confidential rapid HIV testing from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, December 1, at the  Chatham County Health Department located at 1395 Eisenhower Drive in Savannah.

Whether you are actively dating or in a committed relationship, you can take these simple, effective steps to help prevent HIV infection for you and your partner:
• Use condoms every time you have sex.
• Get an HIV test, which is free and confidential.
• Be monogamous.
• Do not abuse alcohol or drugs.
• Talk to your doctor about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) or post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if you think you are at risk for HIV.

For more information, please call Diane DeVore at (912) 353-3276 or email Diane.Devore@dph.ga.gov.

For more information on the Coastal Health Districts HIV/AIDS program, click HERE.

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Keep Germs Away This Winter

Germs are everywhere and we can’t avoid them all but some can make you sicker than others. Protecting ourselves from certain viruses starts with good hygiene.

“Stomach Bugs”
Viruses such norovirus – or what many refer to as “stomach bugs” – can be spread in different ways, including eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated or touching surfaces or objects that are contaminated and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth. The best way to prevent the spread of gastrointestinal viruses is to practice good hygiene on a consistent basis. That includes:

  • Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom and changing diapers, and always before eating, preparing, or handling food. (Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing but they should not be used as a substitute for washing with soap and water).
  • When you are sick, do not prepare food or care for others who are sick. You should not prepare food for others or provide healthcare while you are sick and for at least 2 days after symptoms stop.
  • After throwing up or having diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces by using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label.
  • Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool.
  • And as always, if you are sick – whether with a stomach bug, the flu, or something else – stay home for at least 24 hours after symptoms have gone – and try to limit contact with others as much as possible.

Foodborne Illness
Foodborne illness, often called “food poisoning,” makes about 48 million Americans sick ever year. Safe food handling practices are key when it comes to preventing foodborne illness. Do you clean, separate, cook, and chill? Doing those four things will go a long way toward keeping potentially harmful bacteria away from the food you eat. And what about those leftovers? Here’s the lowdown from the Partnership for Food Safety and Education:

  • Throw away all perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles, left at room temperature longer than two hours; one hour in air temperatures above 90 °F. This also includes leftovers taken home from a restaurant. Some exceptions to this rule are foods such as cookies, crackers, bread and whole fruits.
  • Whole roasts, hams and turkeys should be sliced or cut into smaller pieces or portions before storing them in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers in shallow containers. Wrap or cover the food. Leftovers stored in the refrigerator should be consumed within 3-4 days, and leftovers should be heated to 165°F prior to consumption.
  • Foods stored longer may become unsafe to eat and cause foodborne illness. Do not taste leftovers that appear to be safe, bacteria that cause illness does not affect the taste, smell, or appearance of food.
  • Frozen storage times are much longer, but some items such as salads made with mayonnaise do not freeze well. Foods kept frozen longer than recommended storage times are safe to eat, but may be drier and not taste as good.
  • WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!

Cooking at proper temperatures is also very important.

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The Flu

Don’t let the flu take the fun out of your holidays. The best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get vaccinated.  All Coastal Health District health departments have flu shots available for $29 and high-dose flu vaccine, recommended for those 65 and older, available for $50.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone six months of age and older receive a yearly flu vaccine. The flu vaccine cannot cause the flu and getting vaccinated is the first and best line of defense against the flu. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the immune system to fully respond to the vaccine and provide the body protection.

On average, more than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized each year for illnesses associated with seasonal influenza virus infections and it is estimated that more than 36,000 Americans die each year from influenza-related illness.

The flu virus is easily spread through coughs and sneezes and by touching something with the virus on it and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. That’s why good health habits are also important including:

• Avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you get sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. The fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
• While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
• Try to cough or sneeze into the corner of your elbow and not your hand or cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Wash your hands with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

Want to know some other ways to prevent the flu? Click HERE.

Free Mammograms for Women Who Meet Eligibility Guidelines

The Chatham County Health Department’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP) and St. Joseph’s/Candler Mobile Mammography Program are partnering to offer free mammogram screenings for women who meet eligibility guidelines. Mammograms will be offered from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. on Monday, November 28, at the Chatham County Health Department located at 1395 Eisenhower Drive.

Women who meet certain annual income guidelines and are 40-64 years of age without insurance will be eligible to receive a screening mammogram at no cost. Appointments are encouraged but walk-ins will be accepted. To make an appointment, please call 356-2946.

Smoke From Wildfires Spreads In Georgia; DPH Urges Precautions to Protect Health

Shifting winds are pushing smoke from several fires burning in North Georgia and parts of Tennessee into the state, including the metro Atlanta area. The Georgia Department of Public Health is urging people, especially individuals with chronic heart and lung diseases, to protect themselves from smoke from wildfires.

For healthy people, smoke from wildfires that contains particles from burning trees and shrubs can irritate your eyes and respiratory system. However, smoke can worsen chronic health problems such as lung disease, asthma, allergies and increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. People with existing respiratory conditions, young children and elderly people are especially susceptible to health effects from this smoke.

“We especially urge parents and caregivers to pay careful attention to children and older adults and seek medical care if needed,” said Jean O’Connor, director of Chronic Disease Prevention at the Georgia Department of Public Health. “Older adults are more susceptible to smoke because of their increased risk of heart and lung problems. Children’s airways are still developing and they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults.”

Smoke can irritate the eyes and airways, causing coughing, a scratchy throat, irritated sinuses, headaches, stinging eyes or a runny nose. People with heart disease might experience chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath or fatigue. People with lung disease may not be able to breathe as deeply or as vigorously as usual, and they may experience symptoms such as coughing, phlegm, chest discomfort, wheezing and shortness of breath.

It’s important to limit your exposure to smoke and there are precautions you can take:

  • Use common sense. If it looks and smells smoky outside limit outdoor activities; yard work, exercise, children playing.
  • Pay attention to local air quality reports and news coverage related to smoke.
  • Keep indoor air as clean as possible if you are advised to stay indoors. Keep windows and doors closed. Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside.
  • Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution. Burning candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves can increase indoor pollution. Vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home, contributing to indoor pollution. Smoking also puts even more pollution into the air. 
  • Do not rely on dust masks for protection. Paper “comfort” or “dust” masks commonly found at hardware stores are designed to trap large particles, such as sawdust. These masks will not protect your lungs from the small particles found in wildfire smoke. 
  • Follow the advice of your doctor or other health care provider about medicines and about your respiratory management plan if you have asthma or another lung disease.

For more information about smoke and health go to www.cdc.gov/features/wildfires/.

Free Mammograms Offered in Chatham & McIntosh Counties

The Chatham and McIntosh County Health Departments will offer free mammogram screenings in October for women who meet certain criteria.

Chatham County Information

WHO:  Chatham County Health Department’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP) and
St. Joseph’s/Candler Mobile Mammography Program

WHAT:  Free mammogram screenings for women who meet eligibility guidelines

WHEN:  8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Friday, October 21

WHERE:   Chatham County Health Department, 1395 Eisenhower Drive

WHY:  The Chatham County Health Department’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP) is partnering with the St. Joseph’s/Candler Mobile Mammography Program to offer free mammograms from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, October 21, at the Chatham County Health Department located at 1395 Eisenhower Drive. Women who meet certain annual income guidelines and are 40-64 years of age without insurance will be eligible to receive a screening mammogram at no cost.

Appointments are encouraged but walk-ins will be accepted. To make an appointment, please call 356-2946.


McIntosh County Information

WHO:  McIntosh County Health Department in conjunction with Susan G. Komen and Coastal Georgia Affiliate and Southeast Georgia Health System (SGHS).

WHAT:  Free breast exams and mammograms for women who meet eligibility criteria.

WHEN:  9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday, October 27 (No appointment necessary).

WHERE:  Bi-Lo parking lot, 1338 North Way, Darien

WHY: The McIntosh County Health Department, in conjunction with Susan G. Komen Coastal Georgia Affiliate and the Southeast Georgia Health System (SGHS) will offer free breast exams and mammograms to women over the age of 40 who have not had a mammogram in the last year and who meet certain criteria, including those with no insurance or limited insurance coverage. Mammogram screenings will be provided by the SGHS Wellness on Wheels (WOW) mobile health vehicle in the parking lot of the Bi-Lo located at 1338 North Way in Darien on Thursday, October 27, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information, please call the Health Department at 912-832-5473.

Smoke from Burning Debris Can Trigger Respiratory Issues

Smoke created from residents burning debris generally does not pose a health hazard but it may worsen symptoms for people who have pre-existing respiratory conditions such as respiratory allergies, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The best protection for these individuals is to avoid areas where burning is taking place or stay indoors. If that is not possible, parents or caregivers of persons with respiratory conditions should monitor the individual carefully; ensure all medication is taken as directed; and, seek medical attention immediately if the In addition:

  • Make sure to keep windows and doors shut.
  • Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car.
  • Asthmatics should follow their asthma management plan.
  • Contact your doctor if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath, or severe fatigue. This is important not only for people with chronic lung or heart disease, but also for individuals who have not been previously diagnosed with such illnesses. Smoke can “unmask” or produce symptoms of such diseases.