Public health staff in North Georgia recognized as Immunization Champions

Community, Health

NORTH GEORGIA – The North Georgia Health District was honored with the 2018 Walt Orenstein
Champions for Immunization Award at the Immunize Georgia Conference, recently held for the 25th
year by the Georgia Department of Public Health in Atlanta. The conference is an occasion to give
special recognition to public health immunization champions for their leadership and influence in
getting Georgians immunized.

Immunization is the best protection against vaccine-preventable diseases such as influenza, polio,
diphtheria and pertussis, just to name a few, and the Walt Orenstein Champions for Immunization
Award honors individuals, agencies or coalitions that demonstrate excellence in providing
immunization care.

The North Georgia Health District (district 1-2 of the Georgia Department of Public Health, based in
Dalton and comprised of Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties)
received this award due to the high level of staff commitment to reducing barriers to immunizations
through no- or low-cost vaccinations, community outreach events and flexible clinic hours to meet
the needs of the community.

“We are committed to making it possible for everyone to have access to immunizations with quality
care,” said Ashley Deverell, RN, BSN, district Immunization Coordinator. “From providing over
1200 no-cost flu vaccinations during the peak of the unusually active flu season this past winter to
being a Vaccines For Children provider so we can ensure no one is turned away from receiving
eligible vaccines based on ability to pay, our county health departments and Living Bridge
Center/Ryan White Clinic work in conjunction with public and private partners to administer all
applicable vaccines to as many people as possible.”

Immunizations have been made more accessible in North Georgia through public health in multiple
ways.

County health departments stay open until late one day a week so people who work normal business
hours can have access to services, including immunizations.

 

Health department staff go out into their communities to host vaccine clinics with businesses,
schools, churches and organizations as well as conduct annual back-to-school clinics and drive-thru
flu shot clinics.

They participate in various health fairs to promote immunizations and provide education about many
other health issues and public health services.

The health departments have also developed relationships with fellow county agencies, including
EMS offices and fire departments, to assist in updating vaccinations among personnel.
The Gilmer County Health Department’s International Travel Clinic in Ellijay administers
comprehensive health services to travelers, including vaccines for many diseases that a traveler may
encounter along the way such as polio, measles, typhoid and yellow fever. People all throughout
North Georgia, and beyond, take advantage of these travel clinic services due to the quality of service
and the ability to arrange prompt appointments.

The North Georgia Health District collaborates with local OB/GYN offices to offer low-cost prenatal
care and routinely administers vaccines as part of these services. Plus, the Whitfield County Health
Department offers many primary care services through their Medical Access Clinic, Women’s Clinic
and Children’s Access Clinic to ensure that people who may not have easy access to care can receive
health services, including all recommended vaccinations.

The health district’s commitment to reducing barriers to immunizations also includes a solid public
information campaign that utilizes media and social media along with community partners and
stakeholders inform the public of their need to maintain immunizations and how, when and where
to receive them.

Sherry Gregory, RN, district Infectious Disease Supervisor, said, “Our staff understands the critical
role immunizations play in preventing disease and I am proud of their diligent efforts to make
immunizations more accessible to everyone.”

Dog bit by rabid raccoon in Talking Rock

News

Talking Rock, Ga – The North Georgia Health District, district office of the Georgia Department of Public Health, is warning citizens in both Pickens and Gilmer Counties to be aware of potentially rabid animals in the Talking Rock area.

The official statement by the office only reports of a dog bite sometime on September 4. While the raccoon was found and sent for testing, a positive return has officials in an alerted state. Since the animal has already been recovered, Gilmer County Environmental Health officials are simply urging pet owners to vaccinate their animals as it saved this dog’s life. He is currently under observation at home.

According to Andrea Mathis, county environmental health manager, there was no human exposure to the raccoon. She went on to say, “It’s imperative to maintain rabies vaccinations in our pets, not only for their protection, but to protect ourselves and our families from rabies. Once our pets are exposed to rabies, they can expose us, and rabies is virtually 100 percent fatal if not treated before symptoms begin.”

Check the full release below:

Gilmer County Environmental Health officials are urging residents to ensure pets are vaccinated against rabies after a Talking Rock dog was bitten by a rabid raccoon.

The raccoon fought with the dog outside a home in the Ruby Ridge Drive/Highway 136 area of Talking Rock near the Gilmer-Pickens County Line on September 4th.

The raccoon was shipped for testing to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory and the positive rabies results have now been reported to the Gilmer County Environmental Health office.

According to Andrea Mathis, county environmental health manager, there was no human exposure to the raccoon, and since the dog was currently vaccinated against rabies, it only required a booster shot and at-home observation for 45 days.

“It’s imperative to maintain rabies vaccinations in our pets, not only for their protection, but to protect ourselves and our families from rabies,” said Mathis. “Once our pets are exposed to rabies, they can expose us, and rabies is virtually 100 percent fatal if not treated before symptoms begin.”

An opportunity to get rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats at the reduced cost of $10.00 will be at the Fall Vaccines Clinic hosted by VCA Animal Appalachian Animal Hospital on September 29th. Other vaccines will be offered, as well. Please click on the attached flyer below to view various times and locations of the clinic that are being held throughout Gilmer County.

To learn more about rabies and how to protect against the disease, call the local county environmental health office. The number for Gilmer County Environmental Health is (706) 635-6050.

Additional rabies information is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov/rabies.

Author

FREE HIV Testing at Public Health Facilities in North Georgia

Health

NATIONAL HIV TESTING DAY

June 27th

North GA – Why should you get an HIV test?

Because, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in seven people in the United States are HIV positive and they don’t know it. If you are age 13 to 64, you should get tested for HIV at least once. *People at higher risk should get tested more often.

National HIV Testing Day on Wednesday, June 27th is your opportunity in North Georgia to get HIV tested for FREE at your local public health department in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties or at The Living Bridge Center in Dalton. Just go to www.nghd.org to find your health department or The Living Bridge Center hours of operation, phone number and location, or call the North Georgia Health District at (706) 529-5757.

Our HIV testing is fast, safe and confidential.

National HIV Testing Day is an annual occasion to encourage people to get an HIV test. CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. *People with certain risk factors should get tested more often. People who test HIV positive can take medicines to stay healthy and greatly reduce their chance of transmitting the virus. People who test negative can continue to take steps to prevent HIV infection, such as always using a condom during sex.

 

North Georgians Urged to Take Extra Precautions as Viral Illnesses Increase

Health

North Georgians Urged to take Extra Precautions as Viral Illnesses Increase

North Georgia – North Georgia Health District officials report that there has been an increase in the number of stomach virus and influenza outbreaks in north Georgia and warn that the results could be severe, possibly requiring hospitalization.

“It is not too late to vaccinate against the flu,” said Sherry Gregory, RN, North Georgia Health District Infectious Disease Supervisor. “Flu activity is increasing throughout our area. We expect the flu season to reach its peak early this year, within the next few weeks, so it is important to get vaccinated now. Flu vaccination not only protects the person who receives the vaccine but it also keeps them from spreading the flu virus to others.”

Everyone 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated against the flu. Flu vaccination is especially important for people who are at greater risk for complications from flu and those who live with or care for these individuals. Groups of people that are at high risk for flu complications include children younger than 5 years, adults 65 years and older, and pregnant women. Medical conditions such as asthma, chronic lung or heart disease and diabetes can also increase the risk for flu complications.

“Flu vaccine is available at all our health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties,” said Gregory. For health department contact information, click on the LOCATIONS tab on the North Georgia Health District website at www.nghd.org.

Flu symptoms may include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, and/or, possibly, vomiting and diarrhea.

People at higher risk for complications from the flu should seek medical care as soon as they begin to feel ill, even if they have been vaccinated. They could benefit from antiviral drugs, that can reduce the risk of experiencing complications and reduce the severity and duration of illness. Antiviral drugs are most effective when given early in the onset of illness.

Stomach viruses, such as Norovirus, are very contagious and can infect anyone. These viruses can be spread to others by an infected person, through contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. These viruses can cause the stomach and/or intestines to become inflamed, which leads to stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms can be serious for some people, especially young children and older adults.

To reduce the spread of influenza and stomach viruses, take everyday preventive actions(https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits/index.htm) to stop spreading the viruses.

  • Get a flu shot – this will protect you against the flu virus, which will be especially critical if you are infected with some other virus.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them, especially avoiding healthcare facilities and long-term care homes.
  • Avoid having children inside healthcare facilities and long-term care homes to protect them from catching viruses and to prevent them from spreading viruses to the people who are there.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • 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.

For more information about influenza and its prevention, log onto to the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/index.html. Learn more about preventing the spread of stomach viruses at https://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/index.html.

Public health delayed openings in North Georgia Health District

Community

For Immediate Release
January 8, 2018

Contact: Jennifer King, (706) 529-5757 / jennifer.King@dph.ga.gov

LATEST UPDATE: Public Health Delayed Openings in North Georgia Health District for Monday, Jan. 8, 2018.

North Ga. – ALL our health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties will now delay opening until noon today due to icy road conditions. Now, only the North Georgia Health District office in Dalton will open at 10 a.m. Updates are posted to nghd.org.

Public Health Release Confirms Rabies in Gilmer County

News
Georgia Department of Public Health

ELLIJAY, Ga – An official release from the Georgia Depart of Public Health and its District 1- 2 office has confirmed a case of rabies in Gilmer County.

Specifically, a stray beagle, tested by health officials, tested positive for the virus. Although the beagle was found in the area of Flat Branch and Weeks Road, officials are warning everyone in the county to be wary of stray animals.

Additionally, they are encouraging any in the area who think they or their family have been exposed to the beagle, to call either the Gilmer County Environmental Health office at (706) 635-6050 or the Georgia Poison Control Center at 1 (800) 222-1222 for a free rabies exposure consultation.

The full release given by the department is as follows:

A Gilmer County couple learned today that a stray beagle that had been near their home tested positive for rabies; however, county environmental health officials determined neither the couple nor their pets had been exposed to the virus the dog carried.

“We’re constantly reminding the public to avoid contact with both stray and wild animals,” said Andrea Martin, Gilmer County Environmental Health Manager. “If you don’t know the rabies vaccination status of an animal, you’re putting yourself at risk just by handling it. But in this case, we ascertained that the couple and their pets had not been licked, scratched or bitten by the dog.”

The couple, who lives alone in a residence near the intersection of Flat Branch and Weeks Roads in Ellijay, noticed the beagle on their property on November 25and saw that it exhibited signs of illness, including lethargy and the inability to walk. They tried to tend to the animal but were concerned it could be rabies-infected, so they contacted the local veterinarian hospital.

The dog was prepared for rabies testing and the specimen was sent to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory on November 29. The positive test result was reported to local officials on December 1.

Martin urges anyone living near the intersection of Flat Branch and Weeks Roads, who think it is possible that they or their children could have been exposed to the beagle at any time since November 11, to call either the Gilmer County Environmental Health office at (706) 635-6050 or the Georgia Poison Control Center at 1 (800) 222-1222 for a free rabies exposure consultation.

Anyone who may have lost the beagle should contact officials immediately to be evaluated for possible rabies exposure.

If there are pets in the area that have never been vaccinated or are not currently vaccinated against rabies, they should be vaccinated or given a booster vaccination right away.

“Rabies is nearly 100% fatal in humans,” warned Martin. “Once rabies symptoms are present, it is too late to treat the human victim for rabies. If, however, exposure is known, then rabies post-exposure vaccinations are given to prevent the onset of rabies, saving the person’s life.”

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Press Release: GBI Crime Lab Identifies Counterfeit Pills

Press Release

Budget Workshop: Planning & Zoning

News

Below is the video for the budget workshop: Planning & Zoning (more…)

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