Healthy people, families, and communities.



Dalton (GA) - Spring has sprung and residents should now spring into action to prepare for the potential weather hazards that often come with the season.

Whitfield PrepareAthon Logo smCounty Emergency Management Agency (EMA) officials want to reach all county residents any time emergency weather warnings must be issued. Therefore, as part of the local community preparedness activities of the annual FEMA America’s PrepareAthon! Campaign this year, Whitfield County EMA will conduct a PrepareAthon! Telethon on Wednesday, April 27 from 10 AM to 3 PM.

The telethon will focus on urging local residents to either register or update their existing contact information in the CodeRED© Mass Notification System so they will receive critical communications and timely severe weather notifications from public safety officials. County residents may call (706) 259-3730 or log onto

WDEF News 12 will have live shots of telethon preparation early Wednesday morningon This Morning News, and North Georgia Radio Group’s Mixx 104.5 FM will feature the telethon on the air that day at 11:30 AM.

In addition to the telethon, there will be weather radio giveaways during a live remote on Mixx 104.5 FM on Thursday, April 28th from 4 PM to 6 PM at the Mack Gaston Community Center.

“It’s clear that the ability to receive timely, local weather warnings can be a crucial, life-saving measure,” said Amy Cooley of Whitfield County EMA. “There were 16,135 people who took part in our PrepareAthon! activities last year and they are now better prepared for disasters. We want all Whitfield County to be prepared so we encourage residents to help us beat that number this year.”

Between 1990 and 2014, Whitfield County experienced two tornadoes, 82 weather events involving high winds, nine floods, 14 flash floods, and 21 winter weather events that caused moderate to severe disruption and an estimated $6.5 million of property damage in the affected communities.

Whitfield County's PrepareAthon! is a campaign for action to increase community emergency preparedness and resilience through drills, group discussions, and exercises. The goal of Whitfield County's PrepareAthon! is simple: Build a more resilient community by increasing the number of individuals who understand which disasters could happen in their community, know what to do to be safe and mitigate damage, take action to increase their preparedness, and participate in community resilience planning.

We want to hear about your participation in Whitfield County's PrepareAthon!

You can register your participation in Whitfield County's PrepareAthon! as an individual or family, or  on behalf of an organization, such as a workplace, school, or church by loging onto:

The North Georgia Health District office in Dalton and public Health  Departments and programs in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties will be CLOSED for a state holiday on Monday, April 25. This includes all Children's public health programs and WIC services. We will resume normal hours of operation on Tuesday.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC Foundation Recognize Whaley with Childhood Immunization Champion Award

Bernice Whaley-smDalton, GA –– Joy Bernice Whaley, MSN, APRN-WHNP (retired), a volunteer for the Whitfield County Health Department Children’s Access Clinic in Dalton, Georgia, has been named CDC Childhood Immunization Champion for her outstanding efforts to promote childhood immunization in Whitfield County. Whaley is recognized for over 40 years of devotion as a public health nurse, working primarily in women’s health and prenatal care. Even after retiring in 1999, Whaley began volunteering for the Whitfield County Health Department and is currently assisting in the department’s Children’s Access Clinic, reviewing immunization records and contacting families whose children are behind on vaccines. (Please click here for more information from the CDC.)

“I am very humbled and honored to have won this award because I know I didn’t get there by myself,” said Whaley. “I’ve been assisted by a wonderful team at the health department, who help me with the job I need to do. It’s just a joy every day I’m here!”

Each year during National Infant Immunization Week, CDC and the CDC Foundation honor health professionals and community leaders from around the country with the CDC Childhood Immunization Champion awards. These awards acknowledge the outstanding efforts of those individuals who strive to ensure that children in their communities are fully immunized against 14 preventable diseases before the age of two.

“Ensuring that every child is vaccinated on schedule is critical to protecting our children, schools, and communities from outbreaks of serious diseases,” said Dr. Amanda Cohn, a pediatrician at CDC and the Executive Secretary of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. “We could not achieve our goal of protecting children without those committed individuals who promote immunizations at the state and local levels.”

CDC Childhood Immunization Champions were selected from a pool of health professionals, coalition members, community advocates, and other immunization leaders. State Immunization Programs coordinated the nomination process and submitted nominees to CDC. One winner was selected in each of the participating states and the District of Columbia. “Through the Childhood Immunization Champion awards, CDC and Georgia proudly acknowledge Bernice’s passion, hard work, and commitment to children’s health,” said Marie Smith, RN, BSN, Immunization and Child Health Coordinator for North Georgia Health District 1-2 of the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Gayle Brannon, RN, BSN, Nurse Manager of the Whitfield County Health Department, said, “Mrs. Whaley is deserving of this recognition. Everyone at the Whitfield County Health Department appreciates her assistance in our work to promote the health of our community.”

For profiles of other CDC Childhood Immunization Champion award winners, please visit

About National Infant Immunization Week

National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is an annual observance to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs in promoting healthy communities throughout the United States. Each year, during NIIW, communities across the U.S. celebrate the CDC Childhood Immunization Champions. These award recipients are being recognized for the important contributions they have made to public health through their work in childhood immunization.

National Infant Immunization Week is April 16 – April 23, 2016

North GA – Immunization is a shared responsibility. Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death. They not only help protect our children when we vaccinate them, but can also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases. National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is April 16 – April 23, 2016, and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and county heath departments in north Georgia urge residents to speak with a health care provider or doctor to make sure their babies are up-to-date on vaccinations.

Parents, caregivers and health care providers are all critical in keeping our children protected. It’s easy to forget that one of the best ways to protect children is to make sure they have all their vaccinations. When we protect our children, we are also protecting ourselves. Families and friends should think of their infants and ensure they are also current on their vaccinations to protect the little ones.

NIIW is a call to action for parents, caregivers and health care providers to ensure that infants are fully vaccinated against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases. Immunization is a shared responsibility.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

* Two doses given at least four weeks apart are recommended for children aged 6 months through 8 years of age who are getting a flu vaccine for the first time and for some other children in this age group.

§ Two doses of HepA vaccine are needed for lasting protection. The first dose of HepA vaccine should be given between 12 months and 23 months of age. The second dose should be given 6 to 18 months later. HepA vaccination may be given to any child 12 months and older to protect against HepA. Children and adolescents who did not receive the HepA vaccine and are at high-risk, should be vaccinated against HepA.

For those who are underinsured or whose parents or guardians may not be able to afford them, there is the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. The VFC program helps children get their vaccines according to the recommended immunization schedule and has contributed directly to a substantial increase in childhood immunization coverage levels, making a significant contribution to the elimination of disparities in vaccination coverage among young children.

Vaccination is the best way to protect others you care about from vaccine-preventable diseases.

According to the CDC, the United States currently has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in its history. Scientists, doctors and health care professionals give vaccines to children only after long and careful review. The disease-prevention benefits of getting vaccines are much greater than the possible side effects for most children.

For more information on vaccinations, visit

Gilmer International Travel Clinic graphic for web

Ellijay, GAEvery year, more and more Americans travel internationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).1  Some travel for business or to volunteer, while others visit loved ones or take vacations to faraway lands, each of which has varying degrees of health risks. These risks, whether visiting Monaco or Mozambique, are why the first destination before departure should be to a travel health clinic.

Krystal Sumner Gil Intl Travel Clinic smThe Gilmer County International Travel Clinic is a member of the International Society of Travel Medicine established in 1991 and is centrally located in north Georgia within the Gilmer County Health Department in Ellijay.

"We serve travelers from this entire region,” said Krystal Sumner, nurse manager of the Gilmer County Health Department and supervisor of the Gilmer County International Travel Clinic. “Clients from Atlanta to Chattanooga and all areas in between, both far and wide, come to us for services. Very often, other travel clinics refer clients to us because it may be as long as six weeks before they can squeeze them in, but we can usually see them within a week.”

The travel clinic in Gilmer County provides comprehensive health services that travelers need before leaving the country. These services include an individual assessment of each client's health history, travel itinerary, travel risks and selection of the appropriate travel vaccines to ensure a healthy journey.

Additionally, staff offers recommendations for malaria medications and preventive treatment for travelers’ diarrhea and the clinic is certified to administer the yellow fever vaccine.

Travelers receive the latest information on outbreak alerts such as for Zika and chikungunya viruses, two mosquito-borne illnesses that are currently of concern in certain countries.

Health alert updates and recommendations for travelers are received daily from reliable sources that include the CDC and TRAVAX, a website that serves as a clinical support tool for travel medicine practitioners in helping clients make travel decisions. The site provides independently researched risk-mitigation recommendations.

“We have the ability to provide vaccine to people for many diseases they are less likely to encounter in the U.S. but may be exposed to in other parts of the world, such as polio, measles and even yellow fever,” said Sumner. “But for some diseases, there is no vaccine, and Zika and chikungunya are among them. In these cases, we educate travelers about who should go and who should not go to places where such outbreaks exist and if they do go, how to monitor themselves when they come back home, what symptoms to watch for and to contact their doctor if they develop those symptoms.”

Since opening in 2010, clinic staff has assisted several hundred clients traveling to all parts of the globe for everything from vacations to business to mission trips at affordable rates.

“Our goal for the traveler,” said Sumner, “is to ensure they can stay healthy and focused on the purpose of their trip and not suffer the terrible effects of an illness that could have been prevented. We want them to return as safe and sound as the day they left home.”

The Gilmer County International Travel Clinic is located in the county health department at 28 Southside Church Street in Ellijay. Hours of operation are 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fridays. The clinic closes for an hour at noon each Monday through Thursday.

Although appointments can be arranged within days, travelers are encouraged to schedule a pre-travel clinic appointment at 1 to 2 months prior to any international travel departure. This would provide enough time to receive immunizations and to begin building immunity to diseases that may be encountered on a particular journey.

To schedule an appointment with the Gilmer County International Travel Clinic, call (706) 635-4363, extension 104 or 113. To download pre-travel forms from online, click on pdfInt'l Travel Clinic FlierpdfPreparing for Your Appt, pdfPre-Travel Questionnaire and pdfSurvey of Satisfaction .



1Your Survival Guide to Safe and Healthy Travel (CDC) -

RabiesSuspectL2504 468x3161Ellijay (GA) – Health officials announced today that a dog in Gilmer County, Georgia was quarantined after potential exposure to a rabid raccoon.

Gilmer County Environmental Health Manager Andrea Martin said that on March 30, the owner of the dog submitted the dead raccoon to their office for rabies testing after finding the dog at the owner’s residence in the Boardtown Road area with blood on its mouth and then discovering the body of the raccoon on the property.

Martin sent the raccoon to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory for rabies testing and the positive results were reported on March 31.

No bites or scratches were observed on the dog; however, officials strongly suspected it fought with the raccoon. Since the dog was not vaccinated against rabies, it is being isolated under a strict six-month quarantine at the owner’s residence and will be monitored by Gilmer County Environmental Health staff.

There was no human exposure in this case.


Martin strongly advised residents to maintain rabies vaccinations in pets.


“By maintaining rabies vaccinations in our pets, we are not only protecting our animals, we are protecting ourselves, our family and our community,” said Martin. “If our pets are exposed to rabies and are not vaccinated, they can spread the deadly disease to us and to others.”


Martin said that an upcoming opportunity to get pets vaccinated for rabies at a reduced cost will be at the Gilmer County Vaccine Clinic hosted by the VCA Appalachian Animal Hospital on Saturday, April 23. (Click here for details.)

For more information about rabies and its prevention, contact the local county environmental health office. In Gilmer County, the phone number is (706) 635-6050. Information is also available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at

It's the One-Stop-Spot for School Students' State Health Requirements!

Cher-BtS-May2016-graphic-smallPrepare your child for the upcoming school year! The Cherokee County Health Department is conducting a Back-to-School Health Clinic on Tuesday, May 3rd from 2 to 6 p.m. at public health department locations in both Canton and Woodstock. The required Hearing, Dental, Vision and BMI/Nutrition Screenings will be available: Total cost for screenings is fifty dollars. Also, immunizations will be provided for school-age children for $21.90, each (for uninsured or underinsured). Medicaid (including Amerigroup, Peachstate and Wellcare), Peachcare for Kids, HUMANA, AETNA, United Health Care, Blue Cross/Blue Shield (immunizations, only), CIGNA and Coventry are accepted. The health department location in Canton is1219 Univeter Road and the address in Woodstock is 7545 North Main Street. For more information, please call (770) 345-7371 in Canton or (770) 928-0133 in Woodstock.

DPH Logo Small




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                 CONTACT:

April 6, 2016                                                                                  Nancy Nydam                        

                                                                                                                    (404) 657-2462


Protect Against Mosquito Bites During and After Travel

DPH and Hartsfield-Jackson Partner to Prevent Zika Spread


ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) in collaboration with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is urging travelers to protect themselves from mosquito bites and help prevent the spread of Zika virus. As of this date, no locally transmitted Zika cases have been reported in Georgia or anywhere in the United States, but cases have been reported in returning travelers.

     The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued travel warnings for 41 countries and some U.S. territories where there is ongoing Zika virus transmission, and that list continues to grow. There are many Georgia companies with worldwide business interests which necessitate frequent travel to these areas. In addition, many of these places are popular tourist destinations, including the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Rio.

     “As the region’s global gateway we believe it is our responsibility to work with our health partners to educate the public about Zika virus,” said Miguel Southwell, general manager, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. “The safety and security of our guests and employees at Hartsfield-Jackson is a top priority. “

     Signs have been placed throughout the airport, at the U.S. Customs area, and at baggage claim alerting travelers about Zika virus and offering protection and prevention measures when traveling to Zika-affected areas. At the request of ATL and DPH, airport concessionaires have stocked and made available for purchase EPA-registered insect repellents. Travelers should be aware that insect repellents with at least 20% to 30% DEET are recommended and not all products containing DEET meet that standard, particularly those sold outside of the United States.

     There are urgent concerns about Zika virus infection being passed from mother to fetus during pregnancy and a link to birth defects. Pregnant women should not travel to areas where there is Zika virus transmission. Studies also are ongoing to determine if there is a link between Zika virus infection and Guillain-Barré syndrome and other neurological disorders. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika.

     “I understand that travel to Zika-affected areas will continue, but what I ask is that individuals protect themselves from mosquito bites,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “Most people with Zika virus never know they are infected so it is important for everyone going to countries where there are Zika outbreaks to guard against mosquito bites while they travel and after they return.”

     Zika virus is transmitted primarily through the bite of infected Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. Both species are found in Georgia. Individuals should continue to use EPA-registered insect repellents for three weeks after returning home from travel to Zika affected countries. Even if they do not feel sick, travelers returning to Georgia from an area with Zika should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks so they do not spread Zika to local, uninfected mosquitoes.

     To learn more about Zika protection and prevention, visit or For a list of EPA-registered insect repellents, go to


About the Georgia Department of Public Health

The Georgia Department of Public Health 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. In 2011, the General Assembly restored DPH to its own state agency after more than 30 years of consolidation with other departments. At the state level, DPH functions through numerous divisions, sections, programs and offices. Locally, DPH funds and collaborates with Georgia's 159 county health departments and 18 public health districts. Through the changes, the mission has remained constant – to protect the lives of all Georgians. Today, 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 about DPH, visit


Nancy Nydam

Acting Director of Communications

Georgia Department of Public Health

2 Peachtree St. N.W. 15th Floor

Atlanta, Georgia 30303-3142


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