Healthy people, families, and communities.



RaccoonBaringTeethEast Ellijay (GA) A raccoon attacked a Gilmer County dog on March 9, 2017 and test results have now confirmed the raccoon was infected with rabies.

The raccoon came into a residential yard off Walnut Street near East Ellijay City Hall, close to Georgia Highway 515 North. After attacking the dog that lived on the premises, the raccoon was killed and the head was submitted to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory, which reported the positive rabies results on March 14.

There were no other animal or human exposures to the raccoon.

Since the dog had been previously vaccinated against rabies, it was revaccinated and placed in a 45-day home observation period during which the owner must report any illness to the Gilmer County Environmental Health Office.

Rabies is caused by a virus and is transmitted by a bite of a rabid animal through its saliva. Humans who are exposed to rabies must receive preventive treatments within a short period of time. Once rabies symptoms start to develop, the disease is almost always fatal. Humans normally start to develop symptoms in one to three months after exposure, but this incubation period can be shorter or longer.

Pet owners are strongly advised to keep their dogs and cats up to date on their rabies vaccinations. If a pet receives an initial one-year vaccine, it can receive a three-year rabies vaccination on the following year.

Rabies is prevalent in wild animals such as raccoons and skunks but can be found in coyotes, foxes, bats, bobcats and other wild carnivores. Rodents and opossums are rarely found with rabies, but a bite from any wild mammal should cause concern and be reported to your physician and local environmental health office.

Most humans who die of rabies in the United States acquired it from rabid bats. If you find a bat inside your home, do not handle it or release it to the outdoors; the bat will need to be tested for rabies if there is any chance of human contact. People are sometimes bitten in their sleep by rabid bats without knowing it.


All livestock species are susceptible to rabies including llamas and alpacas. Last year, a cow in an adjacent county was found to have rabies. Livestock animals that have regular close contact with humans or are very valuable, such as horses and show cows, should be vaccinated against rabies each year. Livestock owners are advised to consider rabies when an unknown illness occurs in an animal with possible neurological symptoms. Always have such animals examined by your veterinarian. Livestock animals usually acquire rabies from wild carnivores such as raccoons, bats and skunks.

Warn your children to avoid contact with wild mammals and any stray dog or cat and to report any contact with these animals to you right away.

For more information about rabies and its prevention, log onto the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at

EMS Reg 1 logo 4Web

Lana Duff The ONE 2017 4WebRinggold (GA)Several emergency responders were awarded for outstanding service to their communities at The Colonnade in Ringgold, Georgia on March 16th during the 2017 Northwest Georgia Region 1 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Council Awards Banquet.

The banquet is held each year to honor Emergency Medical Services providers and stakeholders from Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Dade, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Haralson, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, Walker and Whitfield Counties for excellence in pre-hospital care, education, pioneering and special achievements. 

The 2017 Northwest Georgia Region 1 EMS Awards were presented as follows: 

  • Special Recognition: Air Medical Personnel

  • EMS Region 1 Person of the Year – “The ONE”: Lana Duff, Operations Manager at Angel EMS

  • David Loftin Pediatric Call of the Year: Aaron Gaddis and Eric Mantooth of Hamilton EMS, Whitfield County

  • Tommy Gayler Medical Call of the Year: Josh Everett and James Morris of Metro Atlanta Ambulance Service, Paulding County

  • Dr. Richard A Gray Excellence in Trauma Award: Andrew Burnette, Cathy Green and Aaron Freeman of Gilmer County Fire and Rescue

  • Dr. James H Creel, JR. Pioneer of the Year: Tony Cooper of Floyd EMS, based in Rome, Georgia

  • Dr. Virginia Hamilton Special Achievement Award: Dr. Rashi Gupta of Kennestone Medical Center and Dennis Kelly of Puckett EMS, North Georgia Division

  • Mike Miller EMS Educator of the Year: Claudio Leyssens of Georgia Northwestern Technical College

  • Stanley Payne EMS Leadership Award: Carlton Firestone of AMBUCARE EMS, Haralson County

  • EMS Region 1 EMT of the Year: Samantha Kimball of AMBUCARE EMS, Haralson County

  • Danny Hall Memorial Paramedic of Year: Tracy Turner of Bartow County EMS

  • Region 1 EMS Service of the Year: Floyd EMS, based in Rome, Georgia

  • Dr. Paul Nassour Lifetime Achievement Award: Don Taylor of Region 1 Honor Guard, Floyd EMS, based in Rome, Georgia

Many council members, loved ones, friends and associates were on hand to offer support to the award recipients for their achievements and well-deserved recognition.

Congratulations to all award recipients for their outstanding service to their communities.

Please email comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or fax to (404) 657-7307. More infomation is available on the GDPH website:

BCW 2017 hearing locations1 web

BCW 2017 hearing locations2 web


rabies-alertDalton, GA A Whitfield County woman was attacked on her front porch by a cat that has now tested positive for rabies.

On Tuesday, February 28, the cat bit and scratched the woman’s foot as she tried to shoo away the animal from her home in the Dawnville area of Dalton.

Whitfield County Animal Control was called and asked the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office to send an officer to the home. The cat became excessively aggressive with the responding officer, so he had to kill it. The officer was not exposed.

The cat was sent to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory for rabies testing and the positive results were provided to Whitfield County Environmental Health officials on Friday, March 3.

The woman has now begun post rabies exposure treatment, which consists of a series of shots over a two-week period.

Other cats that live on the premises were present at the time of the attack and are unvaccinated against rabies, but it is not yet known if they had any contact with the rabid cat.

Health officials continue to advise residents to make sure all pets are kept current on rabies vaccinations. All livestock that have regular human contact, such as horses, should also be vaccinated.

Officials warn the public to be wary of unfamiliar animals, wild or tame, that exhibit unusual behaviour. These type animals should be reported to animal control or the county environmental health office.

The public is also urged to report to them any attacks or bites by a stray or wild animal.

If bitten, thoroughly wash the wound with soap and water and seek immediate medical attention. If a pet is bitten, seek veterinary assistance for the animal right away. The health care provider and/or the veterinarian will need to know the following to assess the risk of rabies exposure:

  • The geographic location of the incident

  • The type of animal that was involved

  • How the exposure occurred (provoked or unprovoked)

  • The vaccination status of the animal

  • Whether the animal can be safely captured and tested for rabies

For more information about rabies and its prevention, contact the local county environmental health office or log on to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at

Georgia Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week is March 13-17 

Teens and Pre-Teens Vax Image-smallerNorth Georgia – Let’s face it – nobody likes getting shots – but a shot lasts a second: diseases last much longer.

In an effort to protect every adult and child, the Georgia Department of Public Health established Georgia Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week, observed March 13-17, 2017, to serve as a reminder for parents to talk with their preteens and teens about getting immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases.

“Preteens are at an age when they are becoming more independent and social. They spend more time out with friends, playing sports, going to sleepaway camps and attending parties. While this is a fun part of growing up, these activities could increase their risk for contracting potentially life-threatening diseases,” said Sheila Lovett, director for the Georgia Department of Public Health Immunization Program. “Parents, make it a priority to vaccinate your preteen against these preventable diseases.”

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health Rule (511-2-2), all students born on or after January 1, 2002, entering or transferring into seventh grade and any “new entrant” into eighth through 12th grades in Georgia need proof of an adolescent pertussis (whooping cough) booster vaccination (called “Tdap”) AND an adolescent meningococcal vaccination (MenACWY). This law affects all public and private schools, including, but not limited to, charter schools, community schools, juvenile court schools and other alternative school settings (excluding home schools).

These vaccines are available at county public health departments in the North Georgia Health District. Our public health department locations and phone numbers are as follows:

Cherokee: 1219 Univeter Road, Canton, GA 30115 - (770) 345-7371 / 7545 North Main Street, Woodstock, GA 30188 - (770) 928-0133

Fannin: 95 Ouida Street, Blue Ridge, GA - (706) 632-3023

Gilmer: 28 Southside Church Street, Ellijay, GA 30540 - (706) 635-4363

Murray: 709 Old Dalton-Ellijay Road, Chatsworth, GA 30705 - (706) 695-4585

Pickens: 60 Health Way, Jasper, GA 30143 - (706) 253-2821

Whitfield: 800 Professional Boulevard, Dalton, GA 30720 - (706) 226-2621

Vaccines are the best defense we have against serious, preventable and sometimes deadly contagious diseases. They help avoid expensive therapies and hospitalization needed to treat infectious diseases like influenza and meningitis. Immunizations also reduce absences both at school and after school activities and decrease the spread of illness at home, school and the community.

HPV Vax Graphic“The question parents often ask about vaccinations for their preteen or teen is ‘Why does my child need this vaccine?’,” said Ashley Ridley, RN, BSHA, Immunization Coordinator for the North Georgia Health District. “The answer is simple. Vaccinations are the best way to prevent diseases such as meningitis, which can cause shock, coma and even death within hours of the first symptom, and the Human Papillomavirus, also known as HPV, the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. HPV can lead to cervical cancer in women, as well as other oral and genital cancers in men and women; therefore, it is recommended that, ideally, the vaccine be given to girls and boys before they become sexually active and exposed to HPV.”

New Hours ImageJasper, GA – Hours of operation will soon change at the Pickens County Health Department. Beginning Monday, March 13, 2017, the new clinic hours at the health department will be:


Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM

Tuesday: 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Friday: 8:00 AM – 1:30 PM


For more information about the Pickens County Health Department and local public health services, please contact the health department at 60 Health Way in Jasper, call (706) 253-2821 or log onto and click on the LOCATIONS tab. 

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North Georgia Health District Public Health Departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties offer FREE Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC) to Teens 19 and under!

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Our services include:

  • A full range of birth control options, including Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC)
  • Screening and treatment for STDs/HIV
  • Reproductive life planning
  • Health history and physical examination
  • Pregnancy testing and counseling


Click on the LOCATIONS tab above to find the contact information for each of our County Health Departments.

Contact the nearest health department today!

North Georgia Health District Public Health Departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield counties offer AFFORDABLE Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC) for Women! Just click on the name of your county up above to find your health department and how to contact them.

Our services include:FP Poster for web sm

  • A full range of birth control options, including Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC)
  • Screening and treatment for STDs/HIV
  • Reproductive life planning
  • Health history and physical examination
  • Pregnancy testing and counseling

Be sure to contact your County Health Department in North Georgia to get more information. . . .

Get in touch with them today!

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