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

Public Health Topics


Protect Your Family by Getting Vaccinated

The month of August is about bringing awareness to immunizations, and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) wants Georgians to think ahead and get the required school vaccinations. August, which is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), serves as a reminder that people of all ages require timely vaccinations to protect their health.

This year, each week of NIAM focuses on a different stage of the lifespan:

  • Babies and young children (August 12-August 18)
  • Pregnant women (August 5-11)
  • Adults (August 26-31)
  • Preteen/Teen (August 19-25)
  • Back to School (July/August)

Every adult in Georgia (19 years of age and older) should follow the recommended immunization schedule by Age and Medical Condition. Vaccinations protect you and they protect others around you; especially infants and those individuals who are unable to be immunized or who have weakened immune systems.  It is always a good idea to have the adult vaccine schedule nearby as a reference and to make sure you are current on your immunizations. This link is to the recommended adult immunization schedule: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/downloads/adult/adult-schedule-easy-read.pdf

Vaccines protect families, teens and children by preventing disease. They help avoid expensive therapies and hospitalization needed to treat infectious diseases like influenza and pneumococcal disease. Vaccinations also reduce absences both at school and at work and decrease the spread of illness in the home, workplace and community.

Students born on or after January 1, 2002 and entering the seventh-grade need proof of an adolescent pertussis (whooping cough) booster and adolescent meningococcal vaccinations. Every child in a Georgia school system (Kindergarten-12th grade), attending a child care facility, or a new student of any age entering a Georgia school for the first time is required by law to have a Georgia Immunization Certificate, Form 3231. Below are the immunizations required for child care and school attendance:

  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Pertussis
  • Polio
  • Measles
  • PCV13 (up to age 5 years)
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Hib disease (up to age 5 years)
  • Varicella
  • Meningococcal Conjugate

Some schools, colleges, and universities have policies requiring vaccination against meningococcal disease as a condition of enrollment. Students aged 21 years or younger should have documentation of receipt of a dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine not more than five years before enrollment. If the primary dose was administered before their 16th birthday, a booster dose should be administered before enrollment in college.

“The focus of vaccinations often lies on young children, but it’s just as important for teens, college students, and adults to stay current on their vaccinations.” said Shelia Lovett, Director of the Immunization Program of the Georgia Department of Public Health.

This August, protect your family by getting vaccinated. The Georgia Department of Public Health reminds adults to check with their health care provider for their current vaccination recommendations as well as parents to check for their children. Safe and effective vaccines are available to protect adults and children alike against potentially life- threatening diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, meningococcal disease, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, shingles, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox). So talk to your health care provider or visit your public health department and get immunized today.

For more information on immunization, visit http://dph.georgia.gov/immunization-section.

How to Avoid Uninvited Guests at Your Summer Outing

By Archie Magoulas, Technical Information Specialist, Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA

In the summertime, as the weather begins to heat up, our microscopic friends, called bacteria, begin to make uninvited appearances at our cookouts, picnics and even camping trips. Sometimes these little friends can be helpful, but other times, they just make you sick.

Bacteria will grow anywhere they have access to nutrients and water. Microorganisms that cause disease are called pathogens. When certain pathogens enter the food supply, they can cause foodborne illness.

Under the right temperatures, between 40 and 140°F, bacteria reproduce rapidly. In some cases, they can double their numbers within 20 minutes. The warm temperature, along with the moisture needed for bacteria to flourish, makes the summer weather the perfect atmosphere for bacteria.

That perfect weather, combined with an increase in outdoor activities, and food being prepared in outdoor areas that may lack the safety controls of a home kitchen, could be a recipe for disaster – leading family and friends to get sick.

So play it safe and follow the following food safety recommendations:

  • Never leave food out of refrigeration for more than two hours at room temperature. If the temperature is above 90°F, food should not be left out more than one hour.
  • Keep hot food hot – at or above 140°F. Place cooked food in chafing dishes, preheated steam tables, warming trays or slow cookers.
  • Keep cold food cold – at or below 40°F. Refrigerate or place food in containers on ice.
  • If you’ve prepared large amounts of food, divide it into shallow containers. For example, a big pot of baked beans will take a long time to cool, inviting bacteria to multiply, and increasing the risk of foodborne illness. Instead, divide the food into smaller containers and place in the refrigerator or freezer promptly so it will cool quickly.

If you have a question about meat, poultry or egg products, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline by calling 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or email or chat via in English or Spanish via Ask Karen or Pregúntele a Karen.

FREE HIV Testing Events June 27

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. Nearly 45,000 people find out they have HIV every year. In Georgia, the risk of HIV diagnosis is 1 in 51. 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. The Coastal Health District is pleased to offer free HIV testing as part of this global effort.

The Coastal Health District HIV Prevention Program will offer free HIV testing on June 27 in observance of National HIV Testing Day. All testing is completely confidential and results will be available in one minute. A follow-up visit will be scheduled for anyone who tests positive and counseling will be made available to those individuals.

Testing will take place from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 27, at the following locations on National HIV Testing Day:

CHATHAM COUNTY:
Walgreens, 2109 E. Victory Drive, Savannah
Walgreens, 11509 Abercorn St., Savannah
Walgreens, 4210 Augusta Rd., Garden City

GLYNN COUNTY
Walgreens, 4575 Altama Ave., Brunswick

The first 25 people who come for testing at each Walgreens location will receive a gift card.

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.

For more information on National HIV Testing Day events, please call Diane DeVore at (912) 644-5828 or e-mail Diane.Devore@dph.ga.gov.

Mosquito Prevention

Southeast Georgia counties have seen a lot of rain this summer and that means a higher risk for mosquitoes that can carry diseases such as West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). Coastal Health District officials want to remind residents to take steps to avoid mosquito bites and prevent mosquito breeding.

WNV can cause mild to serious illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 80 percent of people infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all; about 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash; and about 1 in 150 people who are infected develop a severe illness such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord). Mosquitoes that carry the West Nile Virus are more likely to bite during the evening, night, and early morning.

EEE is a mosquito-borne virus that causes swelling of the brain. In horses, it is fatal 70 to 90 percent of the time. Horse and large animal owners are encouraged to vaccinate their animals against the virus and to clean out watering sources, such as buckets and troughs, every three-to-four days to prevent mosquitoes from breeding there. EEE is rare in humans; however, humans are susceptible to the virus. According to the CDC, most people infected with EEE do not show illness. Symptoms in severe cases of EEE include a sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. The primary mosquito that transmits EEE breeds in freshwater swamps.

One of the best ways to prevent mosquito breeding and the spread of mosquito-borne viruses is to get rid of standing water around the home and in the yard. Residents are urged to clean up around their homes, yards, and communities and get rid of unnecessary items that can hold water and turn into mosquito breeding grounds by using the “Tip ‘n Toss” method. After every rainfall, tip out water in flowerpots, planters, children’s toys, wading pools, buckets, and anything else that may be holding water. If it holds water and you don’t need it (old tires, bottles, cans), toss it out. It’s also a good idea to change water frequently in outdoor pet dishes, change bird bath water at least twice a week, and avoid using saucers under outdoor potted plants.

For containers without lids or that are too big for the Tip ‘n Toss method (garden pools, etc.), use larvicides such as Mosquito Dunks© or Mosquito Torpedoes© and follow the label instructions. These larvicides will not hurt birds or animals. In addition, clean out gutters, remove piles of leaves, and keep vegetation cut low to prevent landing sites for adult mosquitoes. Homeowners associations and neighborhoods, along with city and county governments, are encouraged to sponsor community cleanup days.

Residents are always encouraged to follow the 5Ds of mosquito bite prevention:

  • Dusk/Dawn – Avoid dusk and dawn activities during the summer when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Dress – Wear loose-fitting, long sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
  • DEET – Cover exposed skin with an insect repellent containing the DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites.
  • Drain – Empty any containers holding standing water – buckets, barrels, flower pots, tarps – because they are breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitoes.
  • Doors – Make sure doors and windows are in good repair and fit tightly, and fix torn or damaged screens to keep mosquitoes out of the house.

The best way to protect yourself from mosquito bites is to use EPA-registered insect repellents containing 20 to 30 percent DEET, Picardin, IR3535, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Wearing light colored

Controlling the mosquito population has to be a community-wide effort. If we all do our part to remove places where mosquitoes can breed and take precautions to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes then we can lessen the risk of getting mosquito-borne diseases.

For more information on mosquito-borne illness and mosquito prevention, click HERE.

 

 

Hurricane Registry for those with functional, access, or medical needs

The key to hurricane season is preparation. That’s why public health and emergency management officials in coastal Georgia maintain a Hurricane Registry for those with functional, access, or medical needs. The Hurricane Registry is for residents with certain healthcare needs who have no way to evacuate – no transportation and no friends or family members who can help – if a hurricane is threatening.

Those with functional or access needs include children or adults with physical, sensory, or intellectual disabilities who need assistance with the activities of daily living such as eating, taking medication, dressing, bathing, and communicating. Residents with medical needs include those who require the support of trained medical professionals.

Residents must apply to be on the Hurricane Registry and can do so by calling toll-free, 1-833-CHD-REGISTER (1-833-243-7344). More information on the Hurricane Registry – along with the application – can be found HERE.

The Hurricane Registry for those with functional, access, or medical needs is a last resort but if you or someone you know may qualify, don’t wait to apply.

STD Awareness: Take Control of Your Sexual Health

Vaccinate Your Pre-Teen

What would you rather face, a shot that lasts a second or a disease that lasts a lot longer?

“Preteens are at an age where they are becoming more aware of their health decisions. They know they should go to the doctor and get vaccinated, yet many times they just don’t go — and parents don’t see it as a priority,” said Sheila Lovett, Immunization Program Director for the Georgia Department of Public Health. “Parents, make it a priority to vaccinate your preteen against preventable diseases.”

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health Rule (511-2-2), all students born on or after January 1, 2002, entering or transferring into seventh grade and any “new entrant” into eighth -12th grades in Georgia need proof of an adolescent pertussis (whooping cough) booster vaccination (called “Tdap”) AND an adolescent meningococcal vaccination (MenACWY). This law affects all public and private schools including, but not limited to, charter schools, community schools, juvenile court schools and other alternative school settings (excluding homeschool).

Vaccines are the best defense we have against serious, preventable and sometimes deadly contagious diseases. They help avoid expensive therapies and hospitalization needed to treat infectious diseases like influenza and meningitis. Immunizations also reduce absences both at school and after school activities and decrease the spread of illness at home, school and the community.

The CDC currently recommends the following vaccines for preteens and teens:

  • Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (Tdap)
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Meningococcal Disease (MenACWY)

For more information, click here.

 

We can make history. End TB.

Often when people hear the word “tuberculosis” they think of a disease that has been long gone. But tuberculosis, commonly referred to as TB, is still a very real problem in the United States. TB remains the world’s leading infectious killer, being responsible for the deaths of nearly 1.7 million people each year and representing the ninth leading cause of death globally. In 2016, Georgia had the 12th highest TB case rate and ranked #6 in terms of numbers of cases of active TB disease among states in the U.S.

World TB Day is recognized every year on March 24 but the more we talk about the disease and how to prevent it the better chances we have of ending TB. This year’s World TB Day theme is “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-Free United States. We can make history. End TB.” The mission of the Georgia Tuberculosis Program is to control transmission, prevent illness, and ensure treatment of disease due to TB by using three strategies: Identifying and treating persons who have active TB; locating, evaluating, and treating contacts; and screening high-risk populations and treating latent TB infection (LTBI).

For more information on the Coastal Health District’s TB program, click HERE.

What is TB?
TB is a disease that usually affects the lungs but can attack any part of the body. TB is caused by germs that are spread from person to person through the air when a person with active TB coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. Although a relatively small number of people exposed to the disease actually contract the infection, active TB disease can be life threatening if left untreated. TB is both preventable and curable. TB can also live in the body without making you sick. This is called latent TB infection (LTBI). Many people who have LTBI never develop active TB.

How is TB spread?
TB bacteria are spread through the air from one person to another. The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.

TB is NOT spread by

  • shaking someone’s hand
  • sharing food or drink
  • touching bed linens or toilet seats
  • sharing toothbrushes
  • kissing

When a person breathes in TB bacteria, the bacteria can settle in the lungs and begin to grow. From there, they can move through the blood to other parts of the body, such as the kidney, spine, and brain.

TB disease in the lungs or throat can be infectious. This means that the bacteria can be spread to other people. TB in other parts of the body, such as the kidney or spine, is usually not infectious.

People with TB disease are most likely to spread it to people they spend time with every day. This includes family members, friends, and coworkers or schoolmates.

Latent TB infection means TB germs are in the body, but not enough to cause sickness or spread germs to others.

TB Symptoms
Symptoms of TB Disease depend on where in the body the TB bacteria are growing. TB bacteria usually grow in the lungs (pulmonary TB).

TB disease in the lungs may cause symptoms such as a bad cough that lasts three weeks or longer, pain in the chest, coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm from deep inside the lungs). Other symptoms of TB disease are weakness or fatigue, weight loss, no appetite, chills, fever, and sweating at night.

Symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected.

 

 

 

 

 

Flu Information

Flu is widespread in Georgia, and more than three hundred individuals have been hospitalized with flu-related illness. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed 25 flu-related deaths so far, but that number is expected to increase.

Flu symptoms and their intensity can vary from person to person, and can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. If you think you have the flu, call or visit your doctor.

In some cases, healthcare providers may recommend the use of antivirals such as Tamiflu® or Relenza®. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid, an inhaled powder or an intravenous solution) that fight against the flu in your body. Antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within two days of getting sick. Antivirals are used to treat those at high-risk for flu complications – young children, the elderly, individuals with underlying medical conditions and women who are pregnant. Most otherwise-healthy people who get the flu, however, do not need to be treated with antiviral drugs.

The predominant strain of flu circulating in Georgia and around the country is influenza A (H3N2). This strain can be particularly hard on the very young, people over age 65, or those with existing medical conditions. H3N2 is one of the strains contained in this year’s flu vaccine along with two or three others, depending on the vaccine.

There are other things you can do to help prevent the spread of flu:

  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • 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 (door knobs, desk surfaces, computer keyboards, etc.)
  • If you are caring for a sick individual at home, keep them away from common areas of the house and other people as much as possible. If you have more than one bathroom, have the sick person use one and well people use the other. Clean the sick room and the bathroom once a day with household disinfectant. Thoroughly clean linens, eating utensils, and dishes used by the sick person before reusing.
  • If you are sick, stay home from school or work. Flu sufferers should be free of a fever, without the use of a fever reducer, for at least 24 hours before returning to school or work.

For Parents
Flu Guide for Parents
Is it a cold or the flu?

For Schools
Information for Schools & Childcare Providers
How to Clean & Disinfect
Cover Your Cough Flier

For Healthcare Providers
Resources for Health Professionals

For additional flu information and resources,
click HERE.

Spanish version of The “red” cover your cough poster for health care facilities asking people to cover their cough and clean their hands.

 

#MoveWithHeart and Celebrate American Heart Month

Try these tips each day for a month to keep your heart healthy.

If you’re looking for some easy ways to take better charge of your health this year, here’s one: get up and move. Not only does physical activity help improve your overall health, it protects your heart, too, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). To make the point, and mark American Heart Month this February, NHLBI is launching a #MoveWithHeart campaign. Here are some facts—and some “get-moving” tips and resources—to inspire you to sit less and move more.

Why move more everyday?
Heart disease is a leading cause of death among African Americans in the United States, but fortunately adding more physical activity to your daily routine can help your heart and improve your overall health. Think about it: Being sedentary or inactive makes you nearly twice as likely to develop heart disease than if you’re active.

Being active can:

  • Strengthen your heart (even if you have heart disease)
  • Improve blood flow
  • Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Give you more stamina and help you cope with stress
  • Help you control your weight
  • Help you quit smoking

Many types of activity can help your heart, whether it’s shooting hoops, taking an exercise class at your local recreation center, or walking during your lunchbreak. The bottom line for you and your family: Get up and get moving!

For more information about the benefits of physical activity visit the NHLBI website.

How much is enough?
As little as 60 minutes a week of physical activity such as walking briskly helps your heart. For major health benefits, aim for at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) a week. Walk around your neighborhood or the track at a nearby school, or start a walking club after church.

If you want to get the same benefits in less time, try for 75 minutes of activities, such as playing a full game of basketball, jumping rope, or working out to a fun YouTube fitness video. It’s up to you how you reach your own personal targets. For example, 30 minutes of physical activity 5 times a week is one option if you’re aiming for 150 minutes a week.   

Can’t carve out that much time at once? Don’t chuck your goal, chunk it! Try 10 minutes a few times a day, for example. You’ll know your workout counts if:

  • Your heart is beating faster
  • You’re breathing harder
  • You break a sweat

Remember: more activity means a bigger boost to your health, so try to stay active between workouts. Here are some ideas:

  • Take the stairs.
  • Stand up when you change television channels.
  • When you hear good music, don’t just sit there, dance!
  • Stand up during meetings, or better yet, suggest a walking meeting.
  • Park in the farthest space from your destination.
  • Get off the bus one stop early.
  • Play with your kids at the playground.

When to check with your doctor

If you have a chronic health condition such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, or other symptoms, talk with your doctor first. Learn more about risks of physical activity for certain groups on NHLBI’s website.

Getting regular physical activity can mean fewer doctor visits, hospitalizations, and medications. Choosing to move more whenever possible is one of the best choices you and your family can make.