Healthy people, families, and communities.



Safe and Healthy Summer Fun web post

From the Georgia Department of Public Health 

Safe and Healthy Summer Fun!

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) wants it to be a safe and healthy summer for all Georgians and visitors to the state. Below are some tips on staying safe while having fun.

MOSQUITOES and summer go hand in hand in Georgia. Avoiding mosquito bites protects you and your family from mosquito-borne illness and helps prevent the spread of mosquito-borne illness in Georgia.

  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET (20-30%) or Picaridin, IR3535 or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Follow all label instructions for safe and effective use. If you’re using sunscreen, apply it first, followed by insect repellent. Wear light-colored clothing, including loose-fitting long-sleeves, pants and socks to help protect against mosquito bites.
  • Tip ‘n Toss standing water after every rainfall or at least once a week to eliminate breeding locations for mosquitoes and prevent the spread of illness.

FOODBORNE ILLNESSES tend to increase during the summer months for two reasons. One reason is that bacteria tend to multiply faster when it’s warm. Another reason is that people are cooking outside more, away from the refrigerators, thermometers and washing facilities of a kitchen.

  • Clean surfaces, hands and utensils with warm water and soap. Wash produce under running water before cutting, eating or cooking.
  • Separate raw and cooked meat and poultry from ready-to-eat foods (raw vegetables and fruits). Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat and ready-to-eat items like vegetables or bread.
  • Cook food to the proper temperature – use a food thermometer to check.
  • Beef, pork, lamb and veal (steaks, roasts,chops): 145 °F with a three-minute rest time
  • Ground meats: 160 °F
  • Whole poultry, poultry breasts and ground poultry: 165 °F
  • Chill. Perishable food should not sit out for more than two hours. In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should NEVER sit out for more than one hour.

SWIM SAFELY. We all share the water we swim in, and each of us needs to do our part to help keep ourselves, our families and our friends healthy.

  • Don’t swim or let children swim if sick with diarrhea.
  • Check out the latest pool inspection results. You can find pool inspection scores online.
  • Shower for at least one minute before you get into the water. This will remove most of the dirt and sweat on your body.
  • Don’t swallow the water.
  • Take children on bathroom breaks and check diapers every hour.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom or diaper-changing area—not poolside—to keep germs away from the pool.
  • A responsible adult should constantly watch young children.
  • Check for a lifeguard or to see where safety equipment, such as a rescue ring or pole, is available.

HEAT AND SUN can cause skin damage, skin cancer and serious illness, but there are ways to enjoy the summer and stay protected.

  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing, hat and sunglasses.
  • Use sunscreen with at least SPF (sun protection factor) 15 and UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) protection. Reapply sunscreen if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours and after swimming, sweating or toweling off. Click here for more Sun Safety Tips for Families.
  • Stay hydrated – drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol.
  • Avoid strenuous activity, take breaks.
  • Never leave children or pets in a hot car.
  • Call 911 if someone has signs of heatstroke:
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Headache       
    • Fatigue
    • Confusion
  • Find a place out of the sun to cool off.

Click HERE for Safety information from the CDC about TICKS!

CDC Ticks
Additional Resources:

Undergoing Rabies Post Exposure Vaccinations


rabies shot photoJasper (GA) – Two Pickens County Animal Control Officers have begun post exposure rabies vaccinations due to exposure to a cat that has now tested positive for rabies.


Three weeks ago, a stray cat was found on Lambert Street in downtown Jasper, Georgia and brought to the Pickens County Animal Shelter. Other than having a bite mark, the small adult black and white female cat seemed healthy until it started exhibiting neurological symptoms. It was then sent to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory for rabies testing on Tuesday, May 21. The following day, the lab reported the cat tested positive for rabies.


The two animal control officers are believed to be the only ones exposed to the cat while it became symptomatic for rabies during a 21-day quarantine it had been placed under since arriving to the shelter. Therefore, no other recommendations or warnings are being issued related to this case.


Health officials continue to urge the public to avoid all unfamiliar animals and to report bites or scratches from any animal that could potentially be unvaccinated against rabies to a healthcare provider and to the local environmental health office immediately. The Pickens County Environmental Health Office phone number is (706) 253-0900. If calling after hours, please call the Georgia Poison Control Center, toll-free, at 1-800-222-1222.


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

J. Sharrel Jones 2019 GPHA Barfield Award Winner copy

   Georgia Public Health Association President Colin K. Smith, DrPH, MS, CPH, presents the 2019 GPHA Barfield Nursing Section Award to J. Sharrel Jones, BSN, RN, Whitfield County Health Department manager, at the association’s annual conference in May.

J.Sharrel Jones 002Dalton (GA)Whitfield County Health Department manager, J. Sharrel Jones, BSN, RN, was named winner of the 2019 Georgia Public Health Association Barfield Nursing Section Award at the association’s annual conference this May in Atlanta.


The Barfield Nursing Section Award was initiated by the Nursing Section of the Georgia Public Health Association in 1983 to honor Dorothy Barfield. Barfield was a lifelong learner who rose up the ranks in the nursing profession, eventually serving as chief nurse at the state level. The purpose of this award is to recognize written works, presentations or projects, including research, that promote public health by contributing to public health issues, programs, evidence and philosophies.


Not only has Jones greatly contributed over the years to local public health efforts to successfully create a community network of prenatal care for uninsured and income challenged residents of Whitfield and Murray counties, she has also presented the model for how to replicate this type of prenatal care synergy between public health and other organizations at several meetings and conferences throughout the state, including the State of the Public’s Health Conference in Athens last October and, most recently, the Georgia Public Health Association annual meeting in May.


Jones has lived in Dalton for the past 25 years but is originally from Quitman, Georgia. After graduating from Valdosta State University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in 1994, she landed her first position as a registered nurse in pediatrics at Hamilton Medical Center. Jones underwent two years of nursing skill development in the private sector before accepting a position at Whitfield County Health Department in the Children’s Access Clinic, and she eventually transitioned into the Family Planning & Women’s Health programs.


Jones was promoted in 2018 and currently serves as county manager of the Whitfield County Health Department. She has worked in public health since 1997 and has experience in immunizations, child health checks, the Children First program, Women, Infants and Children (WIC), family planning, child passenger seat program, breast and cervical cancer program, maternal/child health, and women’s health, and she serves as the Basic Life Support instructor for the department.


Jones has dedicated 21 years of her nursing career to Public Health and her community.

National Women's Health Week

May 12–18, 2019

What steps can you take for better health?
Select your age group. . .
go to your 20s go to your 30s go to your 40s go to your 50s go to your 60s go to your 70s go to your 80s go to your 90s
National Women's Health Week graphicIt's never too early or late to work toward being your healthiest you! This National Women's Health Week, we want to help you take control of your health.
Take the first step! Join the National Women's Health Week celebration and learn what you can do to lead a healthier life at any age.
Contact your Public Health Department for more information in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens or Whitfield County! Just go to the LOCATIONS tab up above.
Information and services that will help you in your health care and family planning decisions are available. You will be served by a team of professionals (nurse practitioners and public health nurses).

Services include:

· Blood pressure and weight evaluation
· Breast and Pelvic Exam, Pap Smear Screening and Referral, if needed
· Breast Self Exam Instruction and Counseling
· Screening, Diagnosis, Treatment and/ or referral for Vaginal Infections, STDs (including HIV)
· Routine Laboratory Testing
· Mammogram Referral
· Pregnancy Testing
· Referral for Perinatal and other Case Management Services

Available Birth Control Methods, including Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs):

· Condoms
· Depo-Provera
· Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness
· The “Pill”
· The “Patch”
· Referral for Tubal Ligation (Female Sterilization)
· Referral for Vasectomy (Male Sterilization)
· Referral for Emergency Contraception (Plan B)
· Abstinence Counseling

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Our Public Health Nurses are HERE for YOU.

Contact Our District Office or Your Health Department in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens or Whitfield County TODAY!

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Mosquito bites can be deadly webWritten by By Raymond King, Environmental Health Director, North Georgia Health District 1-2


Last year set record levels of rainfall in north Georgia, and 2019 is headed in the same direction. More rainfall generally equals more mosquitoes.


There were once two elderly gentlemen in Dalton who enjoyed sitting outside in the shade during warm weather. Both of their properties were well-kept, but neighbors’ properties were not, with multiple objects and containers that held water and mosquito larvae strewn about, including old tires, boats, trash, aluminum cans, cups, flower pots and old appliances.


Although their deaths were separated by more than ten years, both men died of West Nile Virus transmitted by mosquitoes.


Last year, two teens in a nearby county became gravely ill and were hospitalized with La Crosse virus, another kind of encephalitis transmitted by mosquitoes.


Parents and caretakers should understand that children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are the groups most likely to get these mosquito-carried diseases.


Mosquito-carried illnesses are on the increase in the United States and disease cases have doubled between 2004 and 2018, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.1 Further, the report found that disease cases from infected mosquitoes, ticks and fleas have tripled in 13 years and nine vector-borne diseases were discovered or introduced for the first time from the United States and its territories. Georgia falls roughly in the middle of the states for ailments spread by bugs.


"Zika, West Nile and chikungunya—a growing list of diseases caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, have confronted the U.S. in recent years, making a lot of people sick. And we don't know what will threaten Americans next," CDC Director Robert R. Redfield said in a news release. "Our nation's first lines of defense are state and local health departments and vector control organizations, and we must continue to enhance our investment in their ability to fight against these diseases."2


Repellants containing DEET are the most effective, but there are alternatives such as picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), oil of para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. However, these alternatives are somewhat less effective and do not last as long. If using these alternatives to DEET on children, you must repeat applications more often. And there is always the alternative of staying indoors during dusk, night and dawn when most female mosquitoes are out looking for blood. But remember, some mosquito species bite during the day, including the most common species, the Asian tiger mosquito. These repellants also protect you from ticks, another carrier of diseases for humans. Use repellants on your children when they are outdoors and check them thoroughly for ticks when they come home.


Controlling mosquitoes by destroying their larvae and breeding places is a hundred times more efficient than killing adult mosquitoes. Killing adult mosquitoes is difficult but necessary where larvae control is limited or not possible. Pest control companies can apply barrier sprays to outside areas of your home and may also offer mosquito traps. The use of Ultra Low Volume sprayers at night by government programs is not very effective against the Yellow Fever Mosquito or Asian tiger mosquito because these species are mainly daytime biters.


Objects or areas that cannot be emptied of water should be treated with Mosquito Dunks® which contain bacteria fatal to mosquito larvae but absolutely harmless to everything else. Mosquito Dunks® are safe for bird baths and even your pet’s water bowl. You can break up these donut-shaped dunks by hand and use smaller pieces for small areas. Mosquito Dunks® kill larvae for at least a month unless they are washed away. They are made in the shape of a donut, so you can tie it to a rock with string. Placed this way in ditches and water holes, they will not wash away with the next rain. They must be replaced every thirty days or so. Bacteria in dunks will not hurt pets, children, birds or wildlife.


If you have a large area of permanent stagnant water, consider introducing small fish such as the native Mosquito Fish, Gambusia affinis. You can order mosquito fish online at Small bream and other native fish will work as well if there is enough oxygen in the water. There are a number of products to treat stagnant water areas, ranging from biological controls like mosquito fish and growth regulators (methoprene contained in Altosid) to potentially hazardous pesticides. Of course, Mosquito Dunks® work as well but require more of them, about one for every 100 square feet of water.


Call a mosquito control professional or your environmental health office if you are not sure what to do. Don’t treat stagnant pools with an inappropriate insecticide or the wrong amount. Always follow the label directions! If the pesticide is not labeled for killing mosquito larvae, don’t use it. Using a pesticide for a purpose other than what it is labeled for or in greater concentrations than required is a violation of state and federal regulations. You may poison yourself, the environment, your family and your pets. Always use protective gloves when handling pesticides and use other precautions as recommended.


You want to keep adult mosquitoes out of your home. Doors to the outside should not be left open during mosquito season unless protected by tight-fitting screen doors. If you have shaded areas around your doors, these are great areas for adult mosquitoes to hang out during the day and enter your home as you open and close the doors. These shaded areas around doors should be treated with a residual insecticide at least once a month. You may buy these at hardware stores in ready-to-use sprayers or mix your own from insecticide concentrates and apply with a simple pump sprayer. Use safety precautions and follow label directions.


On a small scale around your home, you have several choices for killing mosquito larvae, the most basic of which is emptying all containers and draining stagnant puddles. Of course, your neighbors must do the same and that is sometimes a difficult problem. You may apply a little mineral oil or even cooking oil to small containers, which will suffocate mosquito larvae. Mosquitoes love to breed in the pans under flower pots, so don’t over water or at least keep them treated with dunks. 


There are devices you can purchase that lure female mosquitoes into a trap, devices made especially for female container mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Two of these products are Mosquito Trap-N-Kill© and Ovitrap©. If not available at your local stores, they may be ordered online.


And lastly, remember that mosquitoes also carry heartworms and other diseases to your pets. When you rid your property of mosquito breeding habitats, you protect them as well.