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

Public Health Topics


Join Together To Protect Your Heart and Celebrate #OurHearts During American Heart Month

Cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of death in all eight of our Coastal Health District counties (Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and Chatham). Through our health departments and other public health facilities, we promote healthy eating, moving more, and smoke-free living as part of the preventive prescription for control or against development of heart disease. While we promote these things year round, they take on even more significance during American Heart Month every February.

Did you know that people who have close relationships at home, work, or in their community tend to be healthier and live longer? One reason, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), is that we’re more successful meeting our health goals when we join forces with others. To underscore this point and mark American Heart Month this February, NHLBI is launching the #OurHearts movement, to inspire people to protect and strengthen their hearts with the support of others.

Here are some facts, how-to tips, and resources to inspire you to join with others to improve your heart health. 

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States. Most middle aged people (90 to 95 percent) and young adults (75 to 80 percent) have one or more risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or high blood cholesterol, or being a smoker or overweight. Having more than one risk factor increases your risk for heart disease much more than having just one.

Why Reaching Out Is GoodHaving positive, close relationships and feeling connected with others benefits our overall health, including our blood pressure and weight. Having people in our lives who will motivate and care for us helps, but having feelings of closeness and companionship helps our health too.

Making the following heart healthy lifestyle changes will be easier and more successful if you work with other motivated people:

  • Get physically active.
  • Achieve a healthy weight and maintain it.
  • Eat heart healthy foods.
  • Quit smoking.

Remember, you don’t have to make big changes all at once. Small steps will get you where you want to go. Here are some tips to get you going.

Move More
Invite family, friends, colleagues, or members of your community to join you in your efforts to be more physically active:

  • Ask a colleague to walk with you on a regular basis, put the date on both your calendars, and text or call to make sure you both show up.
  • Join an exercise class at your local community center and bring a neighbor along. Carpool to make it a regular date.
  • Grab your kids, put on some music, and do jumping jacks, skip rope, or just dance.
  • Make your social time active and encourage everyone—family and friends alike— to think of fun things that get you off the couch and moving.

If you have a health condition, including heart disease or high blood pressure, talk with your doctor before increasing your activity.

How much is enough? Aim for at least 2½ hours of physical activity each week—that’s just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. In addition, do muscle strengthening exercises 2 days a week. Can’t carve out a lot of time in your day? Don’t chuck your goal, chunk it! Try 10 or 15 minutes a few times a day. NHLBI’s Move More fact sheet provides ideas to get and keep you moving.

Aim for a Healthy Weight
If you’re overweight, find someone in your friend group, at work, or in your family who also wants to lose weight. (Every little bit can help!) Check in with them regularly to stay motivated or join a weight loss program together. Do healthy activities together, like walking or playing on a neighborhood sports team, and share low-calorie, low-sodium meals or recipes. (Pregnant women should not try to lose weight, but they can exercise.)

Eating Heart Healthy
We tend to eat like our friends and family, so ask others close to you to join you in your effort to eat healthier. Need healthy eating ideas? Try NHLBI’s Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan. It’s free and scientifically proven to lower blood pressure and improve blood cholesterol levels.

Quit Smoking
To help you quit, ask others for support or join a support group. Research has shown that people are much more likely to quit if their spouse, friend, or sibling does. Social support online can also help you quit. All states have quit lines with trained counselors—call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). You’ll find many free resources to help you quit, such as apps, a motivational text service, and a chat line at the websites BeTobaccoFree.hhs.gov and Smokefree.gov.

If you need extra motivation to quit, consider the health of your friends and family: Being around other people’s smoke, called secondhand smoke, is dangerous. Thousands of adult nonsmokers die of stroke, heart disease, and lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke.

Visit #OurHearts for inspiration on what others around the country are doing together for their heart health. Then join the #OurHearts movement and let NHLBI know what you’re doing with friends, family, or others to have a healthy heart. Tag #OurHearts to share how you’re being heart healthy together.

Cervical Cancer Awareness

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and the Coastal Health District wants you to know that there’s a lot you can do to prevent cervical cancer. Each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity, and it causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, but many people with HPV don’t know they are infected.

The good news?

  • The HPV vaccine (shot) can prevent HPV.
  • Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests and follow-up care.

In honor of National Cervical Health Awareness Month, health departments in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties encourage:

  • Women to start getting regular cervical cancer screenings at age 21
  • Parents to make sure pre-teens get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12

Teens and young adults also need to get the HPV vaccine if they didn’t get it as pre-teens. Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 can still get the vaccine.

For more information, check out gachd.org/hpv.

Here are some more great resources:

How to Talk to Your Pre-Teen about HPV Vaccine

HPV Vaccine Information

HPV Safety Fact Sheet for Parents

HPV & Cancer

 

A Healthy 2019

The holidays always bring a flurry of activity including gatherings filled with holiday treats that most of us find hard to resist. As we move in to 2019, we often resolve to live healthier lifestyles. The World Health Organization has Five Tips for a Healthy Diet This New Year that will get you on your way in the food department. But don’t forget about regular exercise. The American Heart Association has some great tips for Long-term Exercise Success.

Don’t put it off any longer. Make a commitment to living a healthier lifestyle this new year!

 

 

 

 

Keep your holidays healthy

It’s the time of year when office parties and family gatherings often mean sharing some yummy holiday goodies. There also tends to be a little bit of a nip in the air making it easier to use weather as an excuse not to go outside to get regular exercise. There are some simple things we can all do to stay healthy this time of year. Something as simple as choosing a parking spot farther away from the store or taking the stairs instead the escalator can help keep you active during the holiday season.

Get more great tips HERE.

Breast and Cervical Cancer Program

Early detection is key when it comes to breast cancer. Screening exams and tests – including clinical breast exams and mammograms – help detect breast cancer. The Georgia Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP) provides access to breast and cervical cancer screening for women who have no insurance (or very limited insurance) and meet certain annual income guidelines. The program provides breast examinations and mammogram referrals to uninsured, low income women between the ages of 40-64 and pap smear testing and pelvic examinations to screen for cervical cancer in women 21-64 years of age.

Mammogram screening events have been scheduled in three Coastal Health District counties in the month of October:

Camden County
9 a.m. – 2 p.m., Friday, October 12
Camden Woods Shopping Center, 1601 State Hwy. 40 E., St. Kingsland

Long County 
9 a.m. – 2 p.m., Tuesday, October 16
IGA, U.S. Hwy. 84, Ludowici

Chatham County 
9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Monday, October 22
Chatham County Health Department, 1602 Drayton Street, Savannah

The Georgia Breast and Cervical Cancer Program  is available at all health departments in the Coastal Health District (Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties). For more information on the program or to find out if you are qualified, please contact your local health department.

National Diabetes Prevention Program Available

There are more than 79 million Americans who have prediabetes and many do not know it. People with prediabetes have blood glucose (sugar) levels higher than normal. The levels are not yet high enough for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. However, people with prediabetes are more likely to get type 2 diabetes than others. Diabetes can lead to serious health complications, including heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, or loss of toes, feet or legs. Even though prediabetes puts you at high risk, there are ways you can lower your chance of getting type 2 diabetes.

The Coastal Health District will be offering the National Diabetes Prevention Program, beginning in September. This is a year-long program designed to help prediabetics avoid type 2 diabetes by making modest lifestyle changes. The participants will be provided a Lifestyle Coach and a group for support, a group facing the same challenges and trying to make the same changes.

The National Diabetes Prevention Program is led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in partnership with critical public and private partners. The centerpiece of the National Diabetes Prevention Program is the lifestyle change program for people at high risk for type 2 diabetes that is proven to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.

There is an informational meeting, for those who are interested, scheduled from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 6, at the Coastal Health District’s Savannah Office (400 Mall Boulevard, Suite G, 31406). 

For more information, contact the Coastal Health District’s Chronic Disease Prevention program at 912.644.5818 or email cristina.gibson@dph.ga.gov.

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.