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Free Rapid HIV Testing at Fannin Co Health Dept-11x17poster-for webFree and confidential Rapid HIV Testing is now available at the Fannin County Health Department.

Testing is conducted on the fourth Thursday of each month at the health department located at 95 Ouida Street in Blue Ridge. Testing times are from 10 AM to 3 PM. (closed from 12-12:30 pm for lunch).

Free prevention supplies are also available.

The CDC recommends that everyone between ages 13 and 64 be tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime, and those at increased risk – such as gay and bisexual men, injection drug users, or persons with multiple sexual partners – should be tested at least annually.

For more information, call the Fannin County Health Department at (706) 632-3023.

Are YOU Prepared for an Emergency?

DALTON (GA) - September is National Preparedness Month and it’s a good time to ask: Are you prepared for an emergency? Is your family prepared? How about your community?

The theme for this year is “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare”.

The four building blocks of emergency preparedness are Be informed, Make a Plan, Build a Kit, and Get Involved.

Be Informed: Learn what protective measures to take before, during and after an emergency. It can mean the difference when seconds count. Basic steps include preparing for your physical safety, which may involve sheltering or evacuating; developing a family communications plan; making an emergency supply kit; signing up to receive emergency alerts and local emergency plans; and, considering plans for recovering from a disaster.

Make a Plan: Chances are you and your family will not be together when a disaster strikes. So, you need to plan ahead as to how you will get to a safe place; how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and, what you will do in different situations. Read more about Family Communication during an emergency.

Build a Kit: A disaster supplies kit should simply contain basic household items that you and your family may need in the midst of an emergency. Assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency in case you have to evacuate immediately. You may have to survive on your own after an emergency, so you will need enough food, water and supplies to last up to 72 hours. It may take that long before relief is available.

Get Involved: After disaster strikes a community, many residents ask, “How can I help?” It’s best to get involved before a disaster occurs. One way to do this is by volunteering to support disaster response efforts in your community and get trained ahead of time to help. Find local opportunities for emergency response volunteering at SERVGA.GOV.

For more information about preparing for an emergency, log onto


Illustration by Ray KingYears ago an acquaintance in her early twenties made frequent use of indoor tanning booths. She noticed a dark, reddish, irregular mole on her left side which was diagnosed as melanoma. Unfortunately, this skin cancer had already spread to her lymph system. She died two years later after it reached her brain. Might she have died of melanoma if she had not used tanning booths? Perhaps; but mounting strong evidence indicates a direct correlation between several skin cancers and frequent use of indoor tanning. 

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or indoor tanning damages DNA strands in a person’s skin cells, resulting in cancers. 

Now that summer is drawing to an end and many “tan fans” will tend to increase their use of alternative tanning methods, it is important to bear in mind that indoor tanning can be more dangerous than tanning in the sun even though tanning booths have less ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. Tanning beds use fluorescent bulbs that emit mostly ultraviolet A (UVA) rays, with smaller doses of UVB rays. UVA radiation is up to three times more intense than the UVA rays in natural sunlight, and even the UVB radiation intensity may approach that of bright sunlight. 

Despite the clear evidence that it is unsafe, the use of tanning beds is on the rise. Nearly 30 million people in the United States tan in salons every year, and most of them are women between the ages of 16 and 49.

Public Health officials urge: Maintain rabies vaccinations in pets!


Chatsworth (GA) – Two Murray County dogs were exposed to a rabies-infected skunk and one of the dogs was put down because it was not vaccinated against rabies.


Murray County Environmental Health Manager Jason Osgatharp reported that on Tuesday, August 19, the skunk was found in a pen with the dogs at a residence located on Crandall Ellijay Road, about four miles northeast of Chatsworth.


The skunk was sent to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory for rabies testing and on Wednesday, August 20, the lab confirmed the positive results for rabies.


Though the one dog that was unvaccinated was put to sleep, the other dog was current on its rabies vaccination; so it only required a booster shot and will be observed under quarantine for sixty days.


There was no human exposure in this incident.


Osgatharp urges residents to maintain rabies vaccinations in their pets to protect their pets, their loved ones and themselves from rabies. He stated that a local opportunity to get pets vaccinated will be at the Discount Vaccine Clinic being held this Saturday, August 23 in Chatsworth (please click on photo at top right for details).


Murray County residents can get more information about rabies and its prevention by calling their county environmental health office at (706) 695-0266, or by logging on to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website at