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

Glynn News


Now Is the Time to Apply for the Coastal Health District Hurricane Registry

The Hurricane Registry is a crucial safety net for coastal residents with medical or functional needs who have no other way to evacuate before a storm


Hurricane evacuations save lives. But for coastal residents with certain medical concerns or physical challenges and no transportation, evacuation is nearly impossible.

That’s why the community needs to know about the Coastal Health District Hurricane Registry.

The Hurricane Registry is a list of people with specific healthcare conditions who would need help evacuating from the 8 Georgia counties nearest the coast. Those counties include Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh. The Hurricane Registry is managed by the local county health department in each of these counties.

“The Hurricane Registry is an important safety net for people with healthcare issues and no way to leave,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, Health Director of the Coastal Health District. “If we know about your individual situation in advance, we can work with emergency managers to develop an evacuation plan for you.”

The registry is not intended for residents with transportation who can evacuate themselves, or residents with friends or family members who can take them to safety. Likewise, nursing home and assisted living residents should not apply, but should follow their facility’s evacuation plan.

Residents must apply to be on the Registry and can do so by calling toll-free, 1-833-CHD-REGISTER (1-833-243-7344) and following the phone prompts which will connect them directly with their county health department.

The application can also be downloaded using one of the following links: 

For more information on the Hurricane Registry for those with functional, access, or medical needs, visit our Hurricane Registry page.

Beach Advisory Lifted for East Beach at Old Coast Guard Station on St. Simons Island

UPDATE:

On August 9, 2019, the Glynn County Health Department lifted the advisory for the East Beach at the Old Coast Guard Station on St. Simons Island, which is from 10th Street to Driftwood Drive.

The advisory was issued on August 8, 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 level had dropped below Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limits. Therefore, the advisory was lifted.


August 8, 2019

The Glynn County Health Department has issued a beach water quality advisory for East Beach at the Old Coast Guard Station, which is from 10th Street to Driftwood Drive on St. Simons Island.

To see an interactive map of this and all the testing locations, go to GaHealthyBeaches.org.

graphic showing the beach water advisory signsThe 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 tested only 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 Glynn County Health Department recommends you do not swim or wade in the water in the area under advisory. Fish and other seafood caught from these areas 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 retested and the advisory will be lifted when tests show the bacteria level meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended standards.

Frequently Asked Questions about Beach Water Advisories
Why is the water tested and what is it tested for?
The water is tested as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s beach monitoring program which includes all Georgia beaches. Water samples are taken all along the island and 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.

Do you know where the bacteria come from?
It is difficult to determine exactly where the bacteria come from but some sources could include animal waste, storm water runoff, or boating waste.

What does it mean 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. When the level of bacteria is higher than it should be there is increased risk of illness to swimmers so the public is advised not to swim or wade in the water in that particular area.

Will I get sick if I go into water that is under advisory?
There is no way to say for sure whether or not you will get sick if you go into water that is under advisory but you will be at an increased risk of illness. Risk of illness comes from contacting beach water in several ways including ingesting water while swimming, getting water in the nose, eyes, and ears or getting water in an open wound. Some examples of possible illness include possible stomach upset, ear infection, sore throat, or wound infection.

What do I do if I have been swimming in water that was under advisory but I didn’t realize it?
There is no way to say for sure whether or not you will get sick if you were swimming or wading in water that was under advisory. The best thing to do is to be aware of any changes in your health. If you start to experience stomach upset, ear infection, sore throat, or wound infection, after you have been in contact with water that was under advisory, contact a healthcare provider.

Is the beach closed?
No, the beach is not closed. An advisory simply means that increased levels of bacteria were found in the water, not on the beach, which is why public health suggests no swimming or wading in the water (risk of illness comes from contact with the water).

Does the advisory cover the entire island?
No. An advisory only covers a certain area. Even if part of the beach is under advisory there are plenty of other beach access points to areas that aren’t under advisory.

How do you know the bacteria are only in one certain area of the water?
Beaches have been divided up into zones. Water samples are taken from the center of each zone and if bacteria levels are found to be higher in a certain zone then an advisory is issued for that area. Because it’s not possible to determine exactly where the bacteria levels switch from “okay” to “elevated,” the advisory is issued for a fairly large area. If water samples from more than one zone indicate higher levels of bacteria then multiple advisories will be issued but again, only for the areas where bacteria is higher.

How long do areas stay under advisory?
When an advisory is issued, another sample of the water in the area under advisory is taken within a few days and retested. An area will stay under advisory until the test shows that bacteria in the water have decreased to an acceptable level as determined by the Environmental Protection Agency.

How often is beach water tested?
Water at the beaches on Jekyll, St. Simons, and Tybee Islands is tested once a week, year-round. Beaches that are under permanent advisory are tested once a quarter (four times a year).

What does it mean if a beach is under a permanent advisory?
A permanent advisory means that there are continually elevated bacteria levels indicating a potential human health risk and therefore swimming or wading is advised against.

Can I eat fish I’ve caught from a beach that’s under advisory?
Yes, fish and other seafood caught in area(s) should be thoroughly washed with fresh water and thoroughly cooked before eating as should fish or seafood caught from any waters.

For more information, visit our beach water testing page.

World Breastfeeding Week Event Scheduled for August 3

The Coastal Health District Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program will host a World Breastfeeding Week celebration from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 3, at the Forsyth Park Farmers Market in Savannah. The event is free and family-friendly and will include a walk for breastfeeding awareness, photo booth, the 10th annual Big Latch On, and information on the benefits of breastfeeding.

Free t-shirts (while supplies last) will be given to all participants. To receive a free t-shirt, you must register.

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 “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding.” According to the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) , the theme was chosen to be inclusive of all types of parents in today’s world. Focusing on supporting both parents to be empowered is vital in order to realize their breastfeeding goals.

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 lactation services offered through the Coastal Health District, visit gachd.org/breastfeeding

 

Beach Advisories Lifted for Jekyll and St. Simons Islands

UPDATE:

On July 25, 2019, the Glynn County Health Department lifted the advisories for the 5th Street Crossover Beach and South Beach at the Lighthouse on St. Simons Island, and Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island.

The advisories were issued on July 23, 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 level had dropped below Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limits. Therefore, the advisories were lifted.


July 23, 2019

The Glynn County Health Department has issued beach water advisories for 2 locations on St. Simons Island and 1 location on Jekyll Island.

On St. Simons Island, advisories have been issued for the 5th Street Crossover Beach and South Beach at the Lighthouse. These 2 beach areas stretch from Cedar Street to the Pier.

On Jekyll Island, the advisory is for Driftwood Beach, from beach kilometer marker 1 to Tallu Fish Lane.

To see an interactive map of these and all the testing locations, go to GaHealthyBeaches.org.

These advisories are only for the areas specified and do not impact any other beach locations on these islands. There is no way of knowing if going into water that is under advisory will result in illness; however, the beach water advisories are meant 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 tested only 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 Glynn County Health Department recommends you do not swim or wade in the water in the areas under advisory. Fish and other seafood caught from these 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 the advisories will be lifted when tests show the bacteria levels meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended standards.

For more information, visit our beach water testing page.

Frequently Asked Questions about Beach Water Advisories
Why is the water tested and what is it tested for?
The water is tested as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s beach monitoring program which includes all Georgia beaches. Water samples are taken all along the island and 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.

Do you know where the bacteria come from?
It is difficult to determine exactly where the bacteria come from but some sources could include animal waste, storm water runoff, or boating waste.

What does it mean 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. When the level of bacteria is higher than it should be there is increased risk of illness to swimmers so the public is advised not to swim or wade in the water in that particular area.

Will I get sick if I go into water that is under advisory?
There is no way to say for sure whether or not you will get sick if you go into water that is under advisory but you will be at an increased risk of illness. Risk of illness comes from contacting beach water in several ways including ingesting water while swimming, getting water in the nose, eyes, and ears or getting water in an open wound. Some examples of possible illness include possible stomach upset, ear infection, sore throat, or wound infection.

What do I do if I have been swimming in water that was under advisory but I didn’t realize it?
There is no way to say for sure whether or not you will get sick if you were swimming or wading in water that was under advisory. The best thing to do is to be aware of any changes in your health. If you start to experience stomach upset, ear infection, sore throat, or wound infection, after you have been in contact with water that was under advisory, contact a healthcare provider.

Is the beach closed?
No, the beach is not closed. An advisory simply means that increased levels of bacteria were found in the water, not on the beach, which is why public health suggests no swimming or wading in the water (risk of illness comes from contact with the water).

Does the advisory cover the entire island?
No. An advisory only covers a certain area. Even if part of the beach is under advisory there are plenty of other beach access points to areas that aren’t under advisory.

How do you know the bacteria are only in one certain area of the water?
Beaches have been divided up into zones. Water samples are taken from the center of each zone and if bacteria levels are found to be higher in a certain zone then an advisory is issued for that area. Because it’s not possible to determine exactly where the bacteria levels switch from “okay” to “elevated,” the advisory is issued for a fairly large area. If water samples from more than one zone indicate higher levels of bacteria then multiple advisories will be issued but again, only for the areas where bacteria is higher.

How long do areas stay under advisory?
When an advisory is issued, another sample of the water in the area under advisory is taken within a few days and retested. An area will stay under advisory until the test shows that bacteria in the water have decreased to an acceptable level as determined by the Environmental Protection Agency.

How often is beach water tested?
Water at the beaches on Jekyll, St. Simons, and Tybee Islands is tested once a week, year-round. Beaches that are under permanent advisory are tested once a quarter (four times a year).

What does it mean if a beach is under a permanent advisory?
A permanent advisory means that there are continually elevated bacteria levels indicating a potential human health risk and therefore swimming or wading is advised against.

Can I eat fish I’ve caught from a beach that’s under advisory?
Yes, fish and other seafood caught in area(s) should be thoroughly washed with fresh water and thoroughly cooked before eating as should fish or seafood caught from any waters.

For more information, visit our beach water testing page.

Beach Advisory Lifted for the South Dunes Picnic Area on Jekyll Island

UPDATE:

On July 18, 2019, the Glynn County Health Department lifted the advisory for the South Dunes Picnic Area on Jekyll Island, which is from Corsair Beach Park to the South Water Tower.

The advisory was issued on July 16, 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 level had dropped below Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limits. Therefore, the advisory was lifted.


July 16, 2019

The Glynn County Health Department has issued a beach water quality advisory for the South Dunes Picnic Area on Jekyll Island, which is from Corsair Beach Park to the South Water Tower.

The 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 tested only 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 Glynn County Health Department recommends you do not swim or wade in the water in the areas under advisory. Fish and other seafood caught from these areas 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 retested and the advisory will be lifted when tests show the bacteria level meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended standards.

To view an interactive map of all beach water testing locations in Georgia, visit gahealthybeaches.org.

Frequently Asked Questions about Beach Water Advisories
Why is the water tested and what is it tested for?
The water is tested as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s beach monitoring program which includes all Georgia beaches. Water samples are taken all along the island and 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.

Do you know where the bacteria come from?
It is difficult to determine exactly where the bacteria come from but some sources could include animal waste, storm water runoff, or boating waste.

What does it mean 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. When the level of bacteria is higher than it should be there is increased risk of illness to swimmers so the public is advised not to swim or wade in the water in that particular area.

Will I get sick if I go into water that is under advisory?
There is no way to say for sure whether or not you will get sick if you go into water that is under advisory but you will be at an increased risk of illness. Risk of illness comes from contacting beach water in several ways including ingesting water while swimming, getting water in the nose, eyes, and ears or getting water in an open wound. Some examples of possible illness include possible stomach upset, ear infection, sore throat, or wound infection.

What do I do if I have been swimming in water that was under advisory but I didn’t realize it?
There is no way to say for sure whether or not you will get sick if you were swimming or wading in water that was under advisory. The best thing to do is to be aware of any changes in your health. If you start to experience stomach upset, ear infection, sore throat, or wound infection, after you have been in contact with water that was under advisory, contact a healthcare provider.

Is the beach closed?
No, the beach is not closed. An advisory simply means that increased levels of bacteria were found in the water, not on the beach, which is why public health suggests no swimming or wading in the water (risk of illness comes from contact with the water).

Does the advisory cover the entire island?
No. An advisory only covers a certain area. Even if part of the beach is under advisory there are plenty of other beach access points to areas that aren’t under advisory.

How do you know the bacteria are only in one certain area of the water?
Beaches have been divided up into zones. Water samples are taken from the center of each zone and if bacteria levels are found to be higher in a certain zone then an advisory is issued for that area. Because it’s not possible to determine exactly where the bacteria levels switch from “okay” to “elevated,” the advisory is issued for a fairly large area. If water samples from more than one zone indicate higher levels of bacteria then multiple advisories will be issued but again, only for the areas where bacteria is higher.

How long do areas stay under advisory?
When an advisory is issued, another sample of the water in the area under advisory is taken within a few days and retested. An area will stay under advisory until the test shows that bacteria in the water have decreased to an acceptable level as determined by the Environmental Protection Agency.

How often is beach water tested?
Water at the beaches on Jekyll, St. Simons, and Tybee Islands is tested once a week, year-round. Beaches that are under permanent advisory are tested once a quarter (four times a year).

What does it mean if a beach is under a permanent advisory?
A permanent advisory means that there are continually elevated bacteria levels indicating a potential human health risk and therefore swimming or wading is advised against.

Can I eat fish I’ve caught from a beach that’s under advisory?
Yes, fish and other seafood caught in area(s) should be thoroughly washed with fresh water and thoroughly cooked before eating as should fish or seafood caught from any waters.

For more information, visit our beach water testing page.

Back-to-School Clinics Scheduled for Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh Counties

The health departments in Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh Counties are helping parents beat the back-to-school rush, offering clinics focused on immunizations and other screenings students may need before the start of school.


Chatham County

July 11, 8:30a – 4:30p

The Chatham County Health Department will provide vision, hearing, dental, and nutrition screenings at no cost from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 11, at the clinic at 1395 Eisenhower Drive in Savannah. Students will be seen on a first come, first served basis. Immunization services will also be available at regular cost.


Effingham County

July 11, 8a – 11a and 1p – 6:15p

The Effingham County Health Department will provide vision, hearing, dental, and nutrition screenings at no cost from 8 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. and 1 p.m. – 6:15 p.m on Thursday, July 11, at the clinic at 802 Highway 119 South in Springfield. Students will be seen on a first come, first served basis. Immunization services will also be available at regular cost.


Glynn County

July 24, 8a – 4:30p

The Glynn County Health Department will provide vision, hearing, dental, and nutrition screenings at no cost from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 24, at the clinic at 2747 Fourth Street in Brunswick. Students will be seen on a first come, first served basis. Immunization services will also be available at regular cost.


Liberty County

July 18, July 25 & August 1, 8:30a – 6p

The Liberty County Health Department will provide 3 back-to-school clinics for students who need immunizations and vision, hearing, dental, and nutrition screenings. The clinics will be held from 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 18, Thursday, July 25, and Thursday, August 1 at the clinic at 1113 E. Oglethorpe Hwy. in Hinesville. Students will be seen on a first come, first served basis and no appointment is necessary.


Long County

July 25 & July 30, 8a-5p (closed for lunch 12-1)

The Long County Health Department will provide 2 back-to-school clinics for students who need immunizations and vision, hearing, dental, and nutrition screenings. The clinics will be held from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 25 and Tuesday, July 30, but will be closed each day from 12-1 p.m. for lunch. The event will be held in the clinic at 584 N. Macon Street in Ludowici. Appointments are welcome but not necessary.


McIntosh County

July 18, 8a – 6p

The McIntosh County Health Department will provide immunizations and vision, hearing, dental, and nutrition screenings on Thursday, July 18 from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. at the clinic at 1335 GA Hwy. 57 in Townsend. The screenings will be offered at no out-of-pocket cost (normally a $30 fee applies when getting the screening at the health department). No appointment necessary.


Information for Parents

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 HPV vaccine is also recommended for both girls and boys ages 11–12 to protect against cancers and other diseases caused by human papillomavirus.

Glynn County Health Department Blood Drive July 9

The Glynn County Health Department will hold a blood drive from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 9, at the health department located at 2747 Fourth Street. All donors will receive a OneBlood cooler, wellness check-up (including cholesterol screening), and buy one/get one admission coupon to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

Get in and out quickly by making an appointment ahead of time. To make an appointment online, just go to www.oneblooddonor.org and use sponsor code #34120.

 

HIV Director Susan Alt Receives Lifetime Achievement and Medical Provider of the Year Awards

Susan Alt, Coastal Health District HIV Director, was recently honored for 35 years of compassion and care for persons living with HIV and AIDS in coastal Georgia. Alt received the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Medical Provider of the Year Award from the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Office of HIV/AIDS.

Coastal Health District HIV Director Susan Alt

“Susan’s approach to all individuals impacted by HIV is marked by empathy, compassion and the highest quality standards possible,” said Georgia’s HIV Prevention Manager Brooke Mootry as she presented the Lifetime Achievement Award. “Her commitment to her work and to the community has been unwavering from day one.”

Alt joined the Chatham County Health Department’s HIV Program in the early days of the HIV epidemic. Since then, the program has grown from just 40 patients to more than 1,470 active patients in 8 counties, with Alt at the helm. The Coastal Health District was the first public health district in the state of Georgia to conduct HIV clinical trials and continues to pursue new and better ways to treat and prevent HIV.

But for Alt, it’s not about the disease – it’s about the people. “Susan is deeply devoted to making sure those living with HIV are treated not only medically but also with respect and compassion,” said Georgia’s HIV Care Manager Marisol Cruz as she presented the Medical Provider of the Year Award. This award is for medical providers (including nurses, physicians and pharmacists) who provide exceptional HIV/AIDS healthcare.

The Coastal Health District’s HIV Program provides comprehensive outpatient HIV care and case management to persons with HIV/AIDS. Every county health department provides free, walk-in HIV testing, and the Coastal Health District has 3 HIV Program centers for expanded services in Savannah, Brunswick and Hinesville. Get more information on our HIV Program page.

Beach Advisory Lifted on St. Simons Island

UPDATE: June 20, 2019

The Glynn County Health Department has lifted the advisory for South Beach at the Lighthouse, which is from 9th Street to the pier on St. Simons Island.

The advisory was issued on June 18, 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 taken showed that the bacteria levels had dropped below Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limits. Therefore, the advisory has been lifted.


June 18, 2019

The Glynn County Health Department has issued a beach water quality advisory for South Beach at the lighthouse (from 9th Street to the pier) on St. Simons Island.

The 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 tested only 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 Glynn County Health Department recommends you do not swim or wade in the water in the areas under advisory. Fish and other seafood caught from these areas 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 retested and the advisory will be lifted when tests show the bacteria level meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended standards.

To view an interactive map of all beach water testing locations in Georgia, visit gahealthybeaches.org.

Frequently Asked Questions about Beach Water Advisories
Why is the water tested and what is it tested for?
The water is tested as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s beach monitoring program which includes all Georgia beaches. Water samples are taken all along the island and 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.

Do you know where the bacteria come from?
It is difficult to determine exactly where the bacteria come from but some sources could include animal waste, storm water runoff, or boating waste.

What does it mean 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. When the level of bacteria is higher than it should be there is increased risk of illness to swimmers so the public is advised not to swim or wade in the water in that particular area.

Will I get sick if I go into water that is under advisory?
There is no way to say for sure whether or not you will get sick if you go into water that is under advisory but you will be at an increased risk of illness. Risk of illness comes from contacting beach water in several ways including ingesting water while swimming, getting water in the nose, eyes, and ears or getting water in an open wound. Some examples of possible illness include possible stomach upset, ear infection, sore throat, or wound infection.

What do I do if I have been swimming in water that was under advisory but I didn’t realize it?
There is no way to say for sure whether or not you will get sick if you were swimming or wading in water that was under advisory. The best thing to do is to be aware of any changes in your health. If you start to experience stomach upset, ear infection, sore throat, or wound infection, after you have been in contact with water that was under advisory, contact a healthcare provider.

Is the beach closed?
No, the beach is not closed. An advisory simply means that increased levels of bacteria were found in the water, not on the beach, which is why public health suggests no swimming or wading in the water (risk of illness comes from contact with the water).

Does the advisory cover the entire island?
No. An advisory only covers a certain area. Even if part of the beach is under advisory there are plenty of other beach access points to areas that aren’t under advisory.

How do you know the bacteria are only in one certain area of the water?
Beaches have been divided up into zones. Water samples are taken from the center of each zone and if bacteria levels are found to be higher in a certain zone then an advisory is issued for that area. Because it’s not possible to determine exactly where the bacteria levels switch from “okay” to “elevated,” the advisory is issued for a fairly large area. If water samples from more than one zone indicate higher levels of bacteria then multiple advisories will be issued but again, only for the areas where bacteria is higher.

How long do areas stay under advisory?
When an advisory is issued, another sample of the water in the area under advisory is taken within a few days and retested. An area will stay under advisory until the test shows that bacteria in the water have decreased to an acceptable level as determined by the Environmental Protection Agency.

How often is beach water tested?
Water at the beaches on Jekyll, St. Simons, and Tybee Islands is tested once a week, year-round. Beaches that are under permanent advisory are tested once a quarter (four times a year).

What does it mean if a beach is under a permanent advisory?
A permanent advisory means that there are continually elevated bacteria levels indicating a potential human health risk and therefore swimming or wading is advised against.

Can I eat fish I’ve caught from a beach that’s under advisory?
Yes, fish and other seafood caught in area(s) should be thoroughly washed with fresh water and thoroughly cooked before eating as should fish or seafood caught from any waters.

For more information, visit our beach water testing page.

National HIV Testing Day Events

The Coastal Health District HIV Prevention Program will hold free HIV testing events on June 27 in observance of National HIV Testing Day. Testing will take place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the following locations:

Walgreens, 2109 E. Victory Drive, Savannah
Walgreens, 11509 Abercorn St., Savannah
Walgreens, 4210 Augusta Rd., Garden City
Walgreens, 4575 Altama Avenue, Brunswick

Testing is confidential and results will be available in one minute. A follow-up visit will be scheduled for anyone who test positive and counseling will be made available to those individuals. In addition to free HI testing, there will be staff available to discuss HIV prevention options such as PrEP, the daily pill t prevent HIV, and treatment as prevention. Gift cards and door prizes will also be given out at the testing events.

HIV testing is recommended as part of routine health care, yet many Americans are not being tested as often as advised. Whether living with HIV or not, there are more options than ever to stay healthy. The first step is knowing your status and getting tested for HIV.  National HIV Testing Day is an opportunity to normalize HIV testing and encourage people to   make it part of routine health care.

Our testing events are part of a nationwide activation in 245 cities with Walgreens, Greater Than AIDS, health departments, and local organizations to normalize HIV testing and encourage people to make it part of routine health care.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates around 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and one in eight people don’t know they have it. National HIV Testing Week is an opportunity to raise awareness, encourage people to get the facts, tested, get involved, and get linked to care and treatment services.

As a reminder, HIV testing is 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.