Keep food-borne illness off your holiday menu!

Cartoon by Raymond King, District Director of Environmental Health Dalton (GA) – As you lovingly serve roasted turkey, baked ham, delicious casseroles and decadent desserts to family and friends this holiday season, don’t let food-borne illness be one of your secret ingredients.

Festive times are for giving and sharing, but that should never include sharing food-borne illness. Here are some tips from the USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline (1-888-674-6854) to help you have SAFE holiday festivities.

Safely handle food.
Always wash your hands before and after handling food – especially raw meat and poultry – and keep your kitchen, dishes and utensils clean, as well.


Cook thoroughly. Be sure to cook food thoroughly to safe minimum internal temperatures. To learn more about safe temperatures for various foods, log onto www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/How_Temperatures_Affect_Food/index.asp.

Use shallow containers. Divide cooked foods into shallow containers to store in the refrigerator or freezer until serving. This encourages rapid, even cooling. Reheat hot foods to 165 °F. 

Follow the two-hour rule. Foods should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Discard anything that has been sitting out for two hours or more.

Keep hot foods HOT and cold foods COLD. Hot foods should be held at 140 °F or warmer and cold foods should be held at 40 °F or colder.

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Woodstock man undergoes rabies treatment after cat bite

Woodstock (GA) A Woodstock man is being treated for rabies exposure after a stray cat bit him. The cat has now tested positive for rabies. 

According to Cherokee County Environmental Health officials, the man was attacked on December 1 as he responded to sounds of cats fighting outside his home in a neighborhood near the intersection of Hickory Flat Highway and Creek Hollow Drive. A white and gray cat he had often fed was there and it started rubbing against his legs. However, the cat suddenly became aggressive and bit him. The cat ran away, but when it returned, the man shot it.
Stock photo of rabid catRabid cat
(Stock photo, only - not the cat in this story)

The incident was reported to environmental health on December 6 and the cat was shipped to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory that same day. The lab reported the positive test results for rabies on December 10.

The Woodstock man who was bitten began post rabies exposure treatment immediately after the incident. Treatment for post rabies exposure consists of one shot of rabies immune globulin and four shots of rabies vaccine administered over a two-week period.

Rabies is almost always deadly in humans who contract it and do not receive treatment. People must recognize the exposure and promptly get appropriate medical treatment before developing rabies symptoms.

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Morganton dogs exposed to rabid raccoon, dog owner may have been exposed

*UPDATE, 12/13/12: IT HAS NOW BEEN DECIDED THAT ONLY ONE OF THE THREE DOGS MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE WILL BE EUTHANIZED. THE OTHER TWO DOGS WILL BE QUARANTINED FOR 6 MONTHS.

Rabies-VirusRabies VirusBlue Ridge
(GA) - Fannin County Environmental Health officials announced today that three Morganton dogs were exposed to a raccoon, which has now been confirmed as positive for rabies. The dogs' owner may have been exposed, as well.

Environmental Health Specialist Shannon Bradburn said a local veterinary office called him on December 10 to report they were treating three dogs for wounds received the day before in a fight with a raccoon at a residence on Old Dial Road in Morganton. The veterinary office advised that none of the dogs were current on their rabies vaccinations.

The dogs' owner had intervened in the fight by killing the raccoon, and in the process, the man received a cut to his hand.

Bradburn immediately arranged for the raccoon to be picked up and shipped to the state lab and was notified on December 11 that the raccoon tested positive for rabies.

*Consequently, the decision was made to have the three unvaccinated dogs euthanized and their owner has begun post rabies exposure treatment.

Additionally, Fannin County Environmental Health staff are canvassing the area near the Old Dial Road residence and are handing out pamphlets regarding actions to take in case of potential rabies exposure.

Rabies that goes untreated is fatal almost 100 percent of the time.

According to Raymond King, Director of Environmental Health for the North Georgia Health District, "Even the most trivial bite or scratch from a rabies-infected animal can transmit the rabies virus and warrants post exposure treatment; therefore, if you think it's even possible that exposure to a rabid animal has occurred to you or your pet, call your healthcare provider or veterinarian immediately."

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Flu is unwanted gift for the holidays

Dalton (GA) -The holiday season is here, and as long as flu viruses are spreading and sick-santa-300x225Don't exchange the flu during the holidays!
causing illness, you want to make sure it's not the flu you're exchanging with loved ones and friends for the holidays.


It's not too late to arm against the flu, and a flu shot can help provide protection.

According to the latest CDC Flu activity report, influenza levels are currently increasing across the country. And since flu activity doesn't usually peak until February in the United States and can last as late as May, it is important for anyone who has not been vaccinated to get a shot now.

Flu vaccine is available at all county health departments in the North Georgia Health District, including Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties. For office hours, call the health department nearest you (phone numbers are listed below) or log onto the North Georgia Health District website at www.nghd.org and click on the 'Locations' tab.

In addition to protecting yourself against the flu by getting vaccinated, the Georgia Department of Public Health urges you to also wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub. Avoid rubbing your eyes or nose with your hands, and cover your coughs and/or sneezes with a tissue or cough into your sleeve, not your hands.

If you do get the flu, get plenty of rest, drink lots of liquids, reduce fever with a non-aspirin pain reliever, and stay home to avoid spreading the flu to others.

For more flu information, log onto http://health.state.ga.us/epi/flu/whatyouknow.asp.
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North Georgia Health District County Health Departments:
Cherokee: Canton (770) 345-7371 / Woodstock (770) 928-0133

Fannin (706) 632-3023           Gilmer (706) 635-4363           Murray (706) 695-4585

Pickens (706) 253-2821
         Whitfield (706) 279-9600
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