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

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Post-Irma Beach Water Testing Update

Testing for elevated levels of 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, resumed this week after testing was suspended due to Hurricane Irma. Beaches in Chatham and Glynn counties showed results that are within normal limits; therefore, advisories for these areas have been lifted.  There is one exception: North Beach at Dexter Lane (from the old North picnic area to Brice Lane). Beach access was blocked in that area so no testing could be performed.

The following areas are only tested once a month and have not been tested since August:

  • Skidaway Narrows (Butterbean Beach) in Chatham County
  • Contentment Bluff Sandbar and Dallas Bluff Sandbar in McIntosh County
  • Reimolds Pasture, Sea Island North, Sea Island South, and Blythe Island Sandbar in Glynn County.

Since no testing has been performed at North Beach at Dexter Lane on Jekyll Island or at any of the areas mentioned in bullet points above, The Coastal Health District recommends you do not swim or wade in the water in those areas. Fish and other seafood caught from those 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 results will be shared once that happens. For more information about beach water testing, click HERE.

Long County Health Department Announces Operational Changes

Due to staffing shortages, the Long County Health Department days and hours of operation are changing. Effective immediately, the health department will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Thursday for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) services. Clinical services will only be offered on Mondays and Tuesdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The health department will be closed every Friday.

This schedule will remain in place for the foreseeable future. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and we appreciate the public’s patience as we try to work through staffing issues.

Environmental Health field-related services will continue to be offered Monday through Friday; however, any applications, payment of fees, or other administrative or office-related Environmental Health services will be addressed Monday through Thursday.

Feral Cat Tests Positive for Rabies in Bryan County

A feral cat in Richmond Hill has tested positive for rabies. Two residents were exposed to the cat, located at the intersection of Highways 17 and 144, and have been advised to follow up with a healthcare professional.

Several species of wild animals that are native to coastal Georgia – including raccoons, foxes, and bats – can carry rabies. Rabies is a potentially deadly virus that is primarily spread by infected animals. The Bryan County Health Environmental Health office offers these tips to protect you and your family from rabies:

  • Avoid contact with animals you don’t know.
  • Make sure your pets receive the proper immunizations. Dogs and cats should get rabies vaccines by four months of age, followed by a booster shot one year later, and another one every year as prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or by leaving pet food out at night.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or a properly licensed animal rescue agency for assistance.
  • Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn.

Symptoms of rabies in animals include a change in behavior, biting, aggression, showing no fear of natural enemies (such as humans), foaming at the mouth, and paralysis.

Call Bryan County Animal Control at 653-3816 or 912 459 6515 to report any animals showing suspicious behavior. Animal Control will work with the Bryan County Health Department to investigate possible cases of rabies. If an animal ever bites you, seek medical care immediately.

 

DPH Urges Safety Precautions After Irma

Keep Yourself and Your Loved Ones Safe By Following Basic Safety Tips

ATLANTA – Hurricane/tropical storm Irma is no longer a threat but recovering from the storm will take weeks, and even longer in some parts of the state. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is urging Georgians to use extreme caution particularly in the next few days as residents return to their homes, power is restored and damage assessments are made. The storm may be over, but that doesn’t mean the danger is.

Be careful near damaged buildings

  • Do not return to your home until you are told it is safe to do so.
  • Return during daylight hours, when it is easier to avoid hazards, particularly if the electricity is off.
  • Do not enter your home if you are unsure of structural integrity.
  • Leave immediately if you hear shifting or unusual noises.
  • If you smell gas or suspect a leak, notify emergency authorities or the gas company immediately and leave the area.

Stay away from power lines

  • Stay clear of fallen power lines – be particularly careful of power lines that may be hidden in fallen trees and branches.
  • Watch out for power lines dangling overhead.
  • Report downed power lines to emergency authorities or the power company immediately.

Avoid floodwater

  • Always follow warnings about flooded roads.
  • Don’t drive through floodwater – it may be deeper than you think.
  • Keep in mind that floodwater often carries germs. If you touch it, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water. If you don’t have soap or water, use alcohol-based wipes or sanitizer.

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • Never use a generator inside your home or garage, even if doors and windows are open.
  • Only use generators outside, more than 20 feet away from your home, doors and windows.
  • Install battery-operated or battery backup CO detectors near every sleeping area in your home.

Identify and throw away food that may not be safe to eat

  • When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Throw away food that has an unusual odor, color or texture.
  • Throw away perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) in your refrigerator when the power has been off for four hours or more.
  • Thawed food that contains ice crystals can be refrozen or cooked. Freezers, if left unopened and full, will keep food safe for 48 hours (24 hours if half full).
  • Throw away canned foods that are bulging, opened or damaged.

Check water quality

  • Listen and follow all drinking water advisories and use bottled water when in doubt.
  • Do not drink water from private wells that have/may have been flooded.
  • Disinfect all private wells that may have been flooded before drinking water.

Protect yourself from animals and pests

  • Floods can bring mosquitoes that carry disease – use insect repellent with DEET or Picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus. Follow label directions.
  • Wear long sleeves, pants and socks when you’re outside.
  • Stay away from wild or stray animals after a storm – call 911 or your local public health department to report them.

Prevent mold

  • Protect yourself by wearing gloves, masks and goggles.
  • Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected (such as mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings and paper products) within 24-48 hours.
  • Remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or floodwaters within 24-48 hours.
  • Ventilate by opening all doors and windows.
  • Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, appliances, sinks and other plumbing fixtures) with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.

 

For more information go to:

https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/hurricane_irma.html

https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/refridg_food.html

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-05/documents/epa816f05021.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/mold/images/mold_infographic.jpg

http://www.gema.ga.gov/Pages/default.aspx

https://dph.georgia.gov/


About the Georgia Department of Public Health

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is the lead agency in preventing disease, injury and disability; promoting health and well-being; and preparing for and responding to disasters from a health perspective. For more information visit: www.dph.georgia.gov

Swimming in the Ocean Not Advised Under Current Conditions

The Coastal Health District and Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Coastal Resources Division, advise against swimming or wading in the ocean due to the possibility of hazards including rip currents, elevated bacteria levels, and debris in the water.

Testing for elevated levels of 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, is currently suspended/temporarily unavailable. Testing will resume as soon as possible.

For more information about beach water testing, click HERE.

Functional, Access, and Medical Needs Registry Evacuation Process Under Way/Evacuation Info.

September 8, 2017

The evacuation process for those on the Chatham County Functional, Access, and Medical Needs Registry is now under way. Those on the Registry will receive an automated call informing them of when they will be picked up at their home. The Functional, Access, and Medical Needs registration process ended at 5 p.m. on Thursday, September 7. At this point, any residents who do not have transportation out of town should report to the Savannah Civic Center to evacuate with the general population.
Again, anyone on the Functional, Access, and Medical Needs Registry will be picked up at their home. Those NOT on the registry who have no means of evacuating should go to the Savannah Civic Center.


Chatham County Evacuation Information

Mandatory evacuation:
All of Chatham county will be under a mandatory evacuation. The governor has called for everything east of I-95 to evacuate, but Chatham County has issued a mandatory evacuation for the entire county
We will begin evacuating by zone:
Zone A: 8 AM—12PM Saturday
Zone B: 12 PM—8 PM Saturday
Zone C: 8 AM—12—PM Sunday


City of Pooler evacuation assistance

  • Shuttles will run from the recreation park located at 900 South Rogers Street on the following days and times:
  • Saturday morning, Sept. 9, at 8 AM—6 PM
  • Sunday, Sept. 10, 8 AM—2 PM
  • The LAST shuttle will run at 2 PM on Sunday, Sept. 10
  • Do not leave any vehicles at 900 South Rogers Street if you are evacuating

EAA (Evacuation Assembly Area)

  • Begins Sept. 9 at 8 AM—7 PM at the Civic Center
  • Will reopen on Sunday, Sept. 10 at 8 AM
  • No one will be allowed to park at the Civic Center
  • Remember those with vehicles are encouraged to evacuate using your own resources
    Luggage:
  • No more than 1 piece of luggage per person
  • Luggage will not be stored at the civic center
    Pets:
  • Are allowed if they are crated and have shot records
  • Only domestic animals (i.e. cats and dogs)
  • People with functional medical needs are being evacuated today (Sept. 8)
  • If they have not already registered, then they will need to do so through the EAA tomorrow, Sept. 9 at 8 AM

Utilities
Port Wentworth is not turning off utility services


Georgia Forestry will not issue any more burn permits after today until further notice
Outdoor burning needs to cease.

Chatham Co. Functional, Access, Medical Needs Registry to Close 5 p.m., Sept. 7

CHATHAM COUNTY, GA – Applications for the Chatham County Functional, Access, and Medical Needs Registry will not be taken after 5 p.m. today, Thursday, September 7. At that point in time any residents who do not have transportation should make arrangements to get to the Savannah Civic Center at 301 West Oglethorpe Avenue to evacuate with the general population should an evacuation order be issued.

We must close the Registry ahead of tropical storm force winds in order to process the number of applicants already received.

Residents with Functional, Access, or Medical Needs Urged to Register with Health Department

Public health officials strongly encourage residents in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties who may have functional, access, or medical needs and no way to evacuate – should that become necessary – register with their county health department. The Functional, Access, and Medical Needs Registry is made up of residents who may require transport and medical assistance during a hurricane evacuation and have no other resources such as family, friends, neighbors, or church members to help them if they need to evacuate. Residents must apply to be on the Registry.

Those on the Registry will be evacuated to an American Red Cross shelter in an inland county that will likely be in a gymnasium or similar setting and could be several hours away. The Registry is truly a last resort, but if a hurricane is threatening our area, it is important that health department officials know where the most vulnerable residents are located so that evacuation assistance can be provided to them. People living in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and personal care homes are not eligible for the Functional, Access, and Medical Needs and must follow their facility’s emergency plan.

Functional and Access Needs registrants are individuals who may need services to maintain their independence in a shelter. This includes children and adults with physical, sensory, mental health, and cognitive and/or intellectual disabilities affecting their ability to function independently without assistance. Medical Needs registrants are individuals who require support of trained medical professionals. This includes those individuals who may need assistance with managing unstable, terminal, or contagious conditions that require observation and ongoing treatment.

The application and protected health information authorization form can be downloaded HERE.
Residents can also call the following numbers for more information:

Bryan County
912-756-2611 or 912-653-4331

Camden County
912-882-8515 or 912-576-3040

Chatham County
912-691-7443

Effingham County
912-754-6484

Glynn County
912-279-2940

Liberty County
912-876-2173

Long County
912-545-2107

McIntosh County
912-832-5473


West Nile Virus Infections Increase in Georgia; Georgians Urged to Protect Themselves from Mosquito Bites

From the Georgia Department of Public Health
August 31, 2017

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed nearly 20 human cases of West Nile virus so far this year, including at least three deaths. Georgians are urged to protect themselves from mosquito bites, especially when they are outside this Labor Day weekend.

“Georgians can reduce the number of mosquitoes around their homes and yards by getting rid of standing water,” said Chris Rustin, Ph.D., DPH director of Environmental Health. “Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes that may be infected with West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.”

Tip ‘n Toss all containers that can collect water – flowerpots, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths – anything that holds water and gives mosquitoes a place to thrive. Mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus look for stagnant water to breed in, so be sure gutters and eaves are clear of leaves and debris.

The most effective way to protect against WNV infection and all mosquito-borne diseases, including Zika, is to prevent mosquito bites. Observe the “Five D’s of Prevention” during your outdoor activities this holiday weekend:

  • Dusk/Dawn – Mosquitoes carrying WNV usually bite at dusk and dawn, so avoid or limit outdoor activity at these times.
  • 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 DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites.
  • Drain – Empty any containers holding standing water because they are excellent 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.

Symptoms of WNV include headache, fever, neck discomfort, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash – that usually develop three to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The elderly, those with compromised immune systems, or those with other underlying medical conditions are at greater risk for complications from the disease.

Anyone with questions about WNV or Zika should speak to their healthcare provider or call their local county health department, environmental health office. More information about mosquito-borne illnesses and mosquito repellents can be found by clicking mosquito-borne illness.


About the Georgia Department of Public Health

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is the lead agency in preventing disease, injury and disability; promoting health and well-being; and preparing for and responding to disasters from a health perspective. DPH’s main functions include: Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Maternal and Child Health, Infectious Disease and Immunization, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Emergency Medical Services, Pharmacy, Nursing, Volunteer Health Care, the Office of Health Equity, Vital Records, and the State Public Health Laboratory. For more information visit: www.dph.georgia.gov.

Raccoon in Coffee Bluff Tests Positive for Rabies

A raccoon in the Coffee Bluff area of Savannah has tested positive for rabies after getting into an altercation with two dogs. The dogs, which are family pets, are currently in isolation at Chatham County Animal Services. The vaccine status of the dogs is unknown at this point. One of the dog owners also may have been exposed to the raccoon and has been advised to follow up with a healthcare professional.

Several species of wild animals that are native to coastal Georgia – including raccoons, foxes, and bats – can carry rabies. Rabies is a potentially deadly virus that is primarily spread by infected animals. The Chatham County Health Department Environmental Health office offers these tips to protect you and your family from rabies:

  • Avoid contact with animals you don’t know.
  • Make sure your pets receive the proper immunizations. Dogs and cats should get rabies vaccines by four months of age, followed by a booster shot one year later, and another one every year as prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or by leaving pet food out at night.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or a properly licensed animal rescue agency for assistance.
  • Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn.

Symptoms of rabies in animals include a change in behavior, biting, aggression, showing no fear of natural enemies (such as humans), foaming at the mouth, and paralysis.