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

Effingham News


Free HIV Testing Events in February

The Coastal Health District HIV Prevention Program will hold free HIV testing events at  several locations throughout the month of February in observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). Although the events are being held to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS education, testing, and treatment among black communities, these testing events – and all HIV testing events offered in the Coastal Health District – are open to the public.

The following events have been scheduled:

Thursday, February 6
12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Georgia Southern University, Armstrong Campus, Savannah

*Friday, February 7
11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Walgreens, 2270 U.S. Hwy. 17, Richmond Hill
* (The first 25 people to be tested at the event in Richmond Hill will receive gift cards).

Saturday, February 8
12 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Savannah Civic Center (Black Heritage Festival)

Monday, February 10
12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Georgia Southern University, Liberty Campus, Hinesville

Wednesday, February 12 and February 19
Time TBD
Savannah State University

Thursday, February 13
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
College of Coastal Georgia, Brunswick

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), blacks/African Americans accounted for 43 percent of all HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2017. Currently, there are around 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and one in eight people don’t know they have it. Getting tested and getting those who are HIV positive into treatment right away is vital in stopping the HIV epidemic.

As a reminder, HIV testing is always free at all health departments in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties and available Monday through Friday during regular health department hours of operation.

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 MiniGrant. The Child Passenger Safety MiniGrant 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.

County Health Departments Host No-Cost Flu Vaccine Clinic Dec. 12

Haven’t had your flu shot yet? Now you’ve got another good reason to get vaccinated: the Coastal Health District is hosting a one-day flu shot clinic on December 12th, offering vaccinations at no cost to you.

“A flu shot is your best protection against getting the flu,” says Dr. Lawton Davis, Health Director of the Coastal Health District. “No one wants to spend the holidays feeling miserable and spreading the flu to family members and friends. If you haven’t had your flu shot yet, we’re hoping this clinic will motivate you to get vaccinated.”

On Thursday, December 12th, all 8 counties in the Coastal Health District will offer flu shots from 8 am – 6 pm (some clinics close for lunch from noon-1 each day, so check the hours for your county).

If you don’t have insurance, the flu vaccination will be provided for free. If you do have insurance, we’ll bill your insurance company, but you’ll pay no out-of-pocket cost.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu. Flu is already circulating in the state, so it is important to take preventive measures now.

World AIDS Day Observance Events Scheduled in Chatham County

The Coastal Health District HIV Prevention Program will  hold several “community conversations” along with free and confidential HIV testing events in observance of World AIDS Day.

Launched in 1988, World AIDS Day is observed every year on December 1. The Coastal Health District, along with organizations all over the world, holds events on and around that day to promote awareness of HIV, decrease stigma surrounding HIV, and advocate for an end to the HIV epidemic.

According to the World Health Organization, of the 37.9 million people living with HIV at the end of 2018, 79% received testing, 62% received treatment, and 53% had achieved suppression of the HIV virus with no risk of infecting others.

The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day, “Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Community by Community,” reflects the important role that communities play in all aspects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic – from breaking down barriers related to delivery of care, to ensuring that the epidemic remains on the forefront of both the political and human landscape.

Scheduled Events

“A Community Conversation in Observance of World AIDS Day”
West Broad Seventh-day Adventist Church
2501 Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd.
Saturday, November 30
10:45 a.m.


“A Community Conversation in Observance of World AIDS Day”
Impact Church en Español
5975 Ogeechee Road
Sunday, December 1
2 p.m.


*Walgreens
2109 E. Victory Drive
Monday, December 2
3 p.m. – 7 p.m.
*(Gift cards to the first 50 people tested)


Star Castle*
550 Mall Blvd.
Thursday, December 5
8 p.m. – 1 a.m.
*(Free entry with HIV test. Gift cards to first 50 people tested. Must be 21+ or present valid college ID after 10 p.m.)

HIV testing is always free at all health departments in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties and available Monday through Friday during regular health department hours of operation.

Anyone with questions about testing can call Diane DeVore at (912) 644-5828 or e-mail Diane.Devore@dph.ga.gov.

Flu Vaccine Available at Health Departments

It may still feel like summer outside, but this year’s flu season has already begun. Getting vaccinated is the best protection against flu and the health departments in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties now have flu vaccine available. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over six months of age, including pregnant women.

“Flu seasons can vary in length and severity. The one thing that remains constant is the fact that influenza can be dangerous,” said Coastal Health District Health Director, Lawton Davis, M.D. “That’s why it is so important to get a flu shot every year.”

It takes about two weeks after getting a flu shot for the vaccine to provide the body with protection against the flu. While getting the flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu, there are other things we can all do every day to prevent getting or spreading the flu:

  • 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.

For more information or to download the vaccine consent form ahead of time, go to www.gachd.org/flu.

The following drive-through flu vaccination clinics have been scheduled:

Glynn County
8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday, October 24
Glynn County Health Department (2747 Fourth St.)
Cash, checks, credit/debit cards, most major insurances, Medicaid, and Medicare will be accepted.

Camden County
10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, November 2
Lowe’s in Kingsland (1410 East Boone Avenue)
Cash, checks, most major insurances, Medicaid, and Medicare will be accepted.

McIntosh County
1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Thursday, November 7
McIntosh County Health Department (Hwy. 57 in Townsend)
Cash, checks, credit/debit cards, most major insurances, Medicaid, and Medicare will be accepted.

DPH Identifies First Death From Vaping-Associated Illness

September 25, 2019

Atlanta -The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has identified the state’s first death from a vaping-associated illness. The patient had a history of heavy nicotine vaping, but no reported history of vaping THC. DPH has identified nine cases, including the death, of vaping-associated illness in Georgia, and other possible cases are being reviewed. All patients were hospitalized and developed pneumonia with no known infectious cause. Cases range in age from 18 to 68 years (median age 26 years), 78% are male.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with states to investigate more than 500 cases of vaping-associated illness. No specific e-cigarette device or substance has been linked to all cases. Most patients have reported a history of using vaping products containing THC. Many patients have reported using THC and nicotine. Some have reported the use of e-cigarette products containing only nicotine.

Governor Brian P. Kemp and DPH Commissioner Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H. urge individuals to follow the CDC recommendation that individuals not use e-cigarettes or other vaping devices while this investigation is ongoing. Without knowing the specific cause of the vaping-associated illness, discontinuing use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices is the best prevention against becoming ill.

E-cigarettes and other vaping devices are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women or adults who do not currently use tobacco products. People who use e-cigarette products should not buy vaping products off the street and should not modify or add any substances to e-cigarette products.

Symptoms of vaping-associated illness, 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.

For more information about e-cigarettes and vaping, visit https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html#latest-outbreak-information.

Beach Water Advisory Lifted for Tybee Island

Updated September 19, 2019

The Chatham County Health Department has lifted the advisory for Tybee Strand Beach at the Pier, which stretches from 11th Street to 18th Street on Tybee Island.

The advisory was issued on September 17, 2019 after routine water quality tests showed a high level of enterococci bacteria which increase the risk of gastrointestinal illness in swimmers.

Subsequent water samples showed the bacteria levels had dropped below Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limits. Therefore, the advisory has been lifted.


September 17, 2019

The Chatham County Health Department has issued a water quality advisory for Tybee Strand Beach at the Pier, which stretches from 11th Street to 18th Street on Tybee Island.

This advisory is only for the area specified above and does not impact any other beaches on the island. There is no way of knowing if going into water that is under advisory will result in illness; however, this beach water advisory is to alert the public of a possible risk of illness associated with water contact. An area under advisory does not mean the beach is closed.
Water samples are collected weekly on Tybee Island, and are tested for 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.

It is difficult to determine exactly where the bacteria come from, but some sources could include animal waste, storm water runoff, or boating waste. When a beach is under advisory, it means that the level of bacteria found in the water is above the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended standards. The Chatham County Health Department recommends you do not swim or wade in the water in the area under advisory.

Fish and other seafood caught from this area should be thoroughly washed with fresh water and thoroughly cooked before eating as should fish or seafood caught from any waters. The area will be re-tested, and the advisory will be lifted when tests show the bacteria levels meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended standards.

Beach Advisory Updated for Jekyll & St. Simons

If you’re planning to swim or wade at the beach on St. Simons or Jekyll Islands, the Coastal Health District has some precautionary advice: check the water for any signs of oil, and use your best judgement before swimming.

The Coastal Health District issued a general swimming advisory Sunday, asking visitors to stay out of the water after a cargo ship capsized in the St. Simons Sound. Today, the swimming advisory has been modified, and swimmers are asked to be aware and use discretion. Although oil has not been seen on the ocean-facing beaches of St. Simons or Jekyll Islands, beach visitors are urged to visually check the water before deciding to swim. A similar advisory also applies to fish consumption.

  • If you see a sheen of oil on the water’s surface, don’t swim. Contact with oil could cause skin and eye irritation.
  • If there is no visible oil on the water, then swim or wade at your discretion. Stay alert for changing conditions.
  • If a fish smells or tastes like oil, or you can see oil on the fish, do not eat it.

Officials at the incident command center are working to plug the ship’s vent stacks to prevent any additional release of oil, and absorbent booms are soaking up most of the oil immediately around the vessel. Booms have also been placed at the entrance of nearby creeks to protect local oyster beds. Agencies will continue to monitor the beaches and marshes for signs of oil contamination.

Some of the agencies involved in monitoring any ongoing environmental impacts are the Coastal Resources Division of the Department of Natural Resources, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, and private contractors. If you see oil on the beach, contact the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 to make a report.

Human Case of West Nile Virus Confirmed in Chatham County Resident

First lab-confirmed human case of West Nile Virus in the Coastal Health District in 2019

graphic of mosquito and words west nile virusAn adult living in Chatham County has been diagnosed with West Nile Virus (WNV), a potentially serious illness transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. This is the first human case in the 8-county Coastal Health District in 2019, and the 4th human case of WNV in Georgia this year.

Chatham County Mosquito Control first detected and reported WNV in a sample of local mosquitoes in July, and the virus quickly spread throughout the mosquito population across the county. Already, 2019 is the second most active year for WNV in Chatham County mosquitoes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80% of people who get WNV won’t have any symptoms. Those who do become sick typically develop a fever, headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. However, about 1 in 150 will develop severe symptoms affecting the central nervous system, which could be fatal. Last year, there were 36 lab-confirmed cases of WNV in humans in Georgia, and 2 deaths.

graphic linking to insect repellent search toolThere is no vaccine to prevent WNV, and no treatment other than supportive care for the symptoms. That’s why the Coastal Health District is urging everyone to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Mosquitoes that carry WNV are more likely to bite during the evening, night, and early morning. Wearing insect repellent containing the chemical DEET will help keep mosquitoes away. Eliminating standing water around the home and yard to keep mosquitoes from breeding.

Tip containers such as children’s toys, flowerpots, and planters after every rain or at least once a week and toss out anything that holds water, such as old tires or cans. Also clean out gutters, remove piles of leaves, and keep vegetation cut low to prevent landing sites for adult mosquitoes.

The Coastal Health District encourages everyone to follow the 5 Ds of mosquito bite prevention:

Dusk/Dawn

Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. If you can, avoid going outside at dusk and dawn to reduce your chance of being bitten.


Dress

Wear loose-fitting, long sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin. If the mosquitoes can’t get to your skin, they can’t bite you.


DEET

Any skin that is exposed should be covered with an insect repellent containing DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label regarding how to apply and how often to reapply.


Drain

Mosquitoes need standing water for breeding, so be sure to empty any containers holding stagnant water, such as buckets, barrels, flowerpots, and tarps. Be especially mindful after a rain, and toss any standing water to discourage mosquito breeding around your home.


Doors

Make sure doors and windows are in good repair and fit tightly. If you have screens on your windows and doors, be sure to fix any rips or tears so mosquitoes can’t get through the screens and into your home.

Food Safety After a Power Outage

If your home lost power during recent storms, you may be concerned about the food in your refrigerator – and with good reason. Without electricity, perishable food in refrigerators and freezers may spoil, and eating spoiled food could make you sick.

When In Doubt, Throw It Out

graphic of an open refrigeratorOur post-storm safety mantra for refrigerated/frozen food is: when in doubt, throw it out. But you can also follow these guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) to determine if your food is safe to eat.

  • Throw out perishable food (such as meat, fish, eggs, milk, and leftovers) in your refrigerator when the power has been off for 4 hours or more.

  • Thawed frozen food that still contains ice crystals can be refrozen or cooked. If not, throw it away.

Always remember: while the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. This will help prevent cold air from escaping.


This video has additional information and advice from the US Department of Agriculture: