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

Glynn News


Swimmers & Fishers Advised of Oil Impacts on Jekyll Island Coastline

Yellow graphic text swimming fishing use caution

The Coastal Health District is alerting swimmers and recreational fishers to the presence of oil on the beaches of Jekyll Island. According to the St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command, responders are finding bits of weathered oil including tarballs smaller than the size of a quarter washing up onto the sand at Jekyll Island.

The public advisory status for swimming and fishing remains cautionary. Beaches are not closed but beachgoers should stay alert. Swim and fish with caution and avoid contact with oil on the beach. If you step on a tar ball or get oil on your skin, wash off the oil with soap and clean water. There is no need to use harsh detergents, solvents or other chemicals to wash oil from skin or clothing – these could be harmful to you.

If you see a sheen of oil on the surface of the water, get out of the water and report the sheen to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802. Do not swim or fish in an area with a visible oil sheen.

On September 30th, there was a discharge of pollutants from the capsized motor vehicle carrier Golden Ray. For additional information on the incident response, monitor the response website at www.ssiresponse.com.

The public advisory status for swimming and fishing may be lowered or elevated based on new information from responders and results of ongoing water quality tests. Monitor the Coastal Health District web page at gachd.org/ssiresponse/ for the latest advisory status, as this page will be updated as the situation changes.

Coastal Health District Advises Extra Caution when Swimming, Fishing at Area Beaches

Active release of pollutants from cargo carrier could impact shoreline

The Coastal Health District urges anyone swimming or fishing on Jekyll Island and St. Simons Island to be aware of an active release of pollutants from the cargo carrier Golden Ray. The public advisory status for area beaches has changed from “green” to “yellow” – swimming and fishing are still allowed, but beachgoers should remain especially alert until more is known about the impact of this current discharge.


According to the St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command, a pollution discharge began Monday afternoon September 30th from the Golden Ray and could have shoreline impacts. For additional information on the incident response, monitor the response website at www.ssiresponse.com.

Before you swim, check the water for any sign of oil, such as a sheen on the water’s surface. If you see oil in the water, do not swim. Contact the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 to report visible oil on the beach.

If no oil is visible, swim with caution, but remain alert for changing conditions. The same advice applies to recreational fishing: fish with caution, but don’t fish in areas with visible oil on the water.

The public advisory status may be lowered or elevated based on information from responders and results of ongoing water quality tests. Monitor the Coastal Health District web page at gachd.org/ssiresponse/ for the latest advisory status, as this webpage will be updated as the situation changes.

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 Advisory Lifted for East Beach on St. Simons Island

Updated September 25, 2019

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

The advisory was issued on September 24, 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 24, 2019

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

This advisory is based on results from routine, weekly water sample tests for bacteria found in humans and some wildlife, and this testing program is not related to the capsized cargo carrier in St. Simons Sound.

The Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division tests water on St. Simons and Jekyll Islands every week of the year, screening for enterococcus (pronounced: en·ter·o·coc·cus) bacteria. When a beach is under advisory, it means the level of bacteria found in the water is above the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommended standards. This does NOT mean the beach is closed.

graphic showing the beach water advisory signs

Periodic advisories are not unusual, particularly during warmer months when bacteria thrive. It is difficult to determine exactly where the bacteria come from, but some sources could include animal waste, storm water runoff, or boating waste.

This beach water advisory is to alert the public of a possible risk of illness associated with water contact in the advisory area. The Health Department recommends you do not swim or wade in the water in the area under advisory. No other beach areas are affected. 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 this week, and the advisory will be lifted when the bacteria levels meet the EPA’s recommended standards. For more information, visit our beach water testing page.

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.

Swimming Advisory Issued for St. Simons and Jekyll Island Beaches After Cargo Ship Capsizes in St. Simons Sound

Beach goers are advised not to swim or wade in the ocean on St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island until more is known about the environmental impact of a cargo ship capsizing in the St. Simons Sound.

A commercial freight vessel carrying 4,200 vehicles capsized early Sunday morning, and as of Sunday afternoon the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit out of Savannah was working to rescue four crew members.

The Coastal Resources Division of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will conduct water quality sampling to ensure the safety of shellfish harvesting beds and swimming beaches. The Coastal Health District is issuing a precautionary swimming advisory until that testing can be done.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division, a branch of DNR, has also been notified of the capsizing and is monitoring the situation.

For updates, visit CoastalGaDNR.org and follow CRD on Facebook.

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:

All County Health Departments Resume Normal Operations Monday, Sept. 9

On Monday, September 9th, all health departments in all 8 counties of the Coastal Health District will be back to normal operational hours.

District and county offices and clinics were closed for several days because of Hurricane Dorian. As the storm approached the Georgia coast, all county operations were suspended because of mandatory evacuations and concerns about severe weather. After the storm, some counties remained closed as employees assisted with reentry for evacuees.

But beginning at 8 a.m. on September 9th, all county health departments, environmental health offices, CARE Centers, and district offices will be back open with normal hours.

We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the closures, and we thank you for your understanding.