Widespread Flu in Georgia

Flu Season.UpdatedFacebook.Social.Risk.1.640x336By the Georgia Department of Public Health

ATLANTA –  If you have not gotten a flu shot yet, do not wait any longer! Flu is widespread in Georgia, and more than three hundred individuals have been hospitalized with flu-related illness. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed *51 flu-related deaths so far, but that number is expected to increase.

Flu Season.Facebook.Social.640x336.FluAway

.The predominant strain of flu circulating in Georgia and around the country is influenza A (H3N2). This strain can be particularly hard on the very young, people over age 65, or those with existing medical conditions. H3N2 is one of the strains contained in this year’s flu vaccine along with two or three others, depending on the vaccine.

 

Flu Season.Facebook.Social.ColdVSFlu.1.600x336"It's not too late to get a flu shot", said J. Patrick O’Neal, M.D., DPH commissioner. “Every individual over the age of six months should get a flu vaccine – not just for their own protection, but to protect others around them who may be more vulnerable to the flu and its complications.”

***FLU SHOTS ARE AVAILABLE AT NO COST TO CLIENTS FOR PEOPLE OF ALL AGES AT OUR PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENTS IN CHEROKEE, FANNIN, GILMER, MURRAY, PICKENS AND WHITFIELD COUNTIES. CLICK ON THE LOCATIONS TAB ABOVE TO FIND THE COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT NEAREST YOU!***

Flu symptoms and their intensity can vary from person to person, and can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. If you think you have the flu, call or visit your doctor.

In some cases, healthcare providers may recommend the use of antivirals such as Tamiflu® or Relenza®. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid, an inhaled powder or an intravenous solution) that fight against the flu in your body. Antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within two days of getting sick. Antivirals are used to treat those at high-risk for flu complications - young children, the elderly, individuals with underlying medical conditions and women who are pregnant. Most otherwise-healthy people who get the flu, however, do not need to be treated with antiviral drugs.

There are other things you can do to help prevent the spread of flu – tried and true measures your mother taught you.

  • Frequent and thorough hand-washing with soap and warm water. Alcohol based gels are the next best thing if you don’t have access to soap and water.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing to help prevent the spread of the flu. Use a tissue or cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow or arm.
  • Avoid touching your face as flu germs can get into the body through mucus membranes of the nose, mouth and eyes.
  • If you are sick, stay home from school or work. Flu sufferers should be free of a fever, without the use of a fever reducer, for at least 24 hours before returning to school or work.

If you are caring for a sick individual at home, keep them away from common areas of the house and other people as much as possible. If you have more than one bathroom, have the sick person use one and well people use the other. Clean the sick room and the bathroom once a day with household disinfectant. Thoroughly clean linens, eating utensils, and dishes used by the sick person before reusing.

To learn more about influenza log on to www.flu.gov.

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*Updated February 5, 2018

Protect Your Daughters from Cervical Cancer. It's Cervical Health Awareness Month!

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

preventcancer 456pxHPV vaccination can protect your children from several types of cancers. For girls, this includes cervical cancer. For boys, HPV vaccination means stopping the spread of the virus, which results in the reduction of cervical and other HPV-related cancers.

Every year in the United States, 31,500 women and men are diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV infection and more than 4,000 women die from cervical cancer, even with screening and treatment. Any woman can get cervical cancer, at any point in their lives. Cervical cancer doesn’t discriminate for age or how healthy a woman’s lifestyle may be. Cervical cancer, along with most other HPV-related cancers, can be prevented by receiving the HPV vaccine.

Vaccinating for HPV also protects women against the uncomfortable process of dealing with cervical “precancers.” Each year in the U.S. nearly 500,000 women endure invasive testing and treatment for lesions (changes in the cells) on the cervix that can develop into cancers. Procedures to eliminate these precancers are necessary to prevent cancer, but can have lasting effects on a woman.

Cervical cancer is a serious disease that affects women, but it only accounts for 38% of cancers caused by HPV infection. While there is screening for cervical cancer, there is no routine screening for the other 20,000 cases of cancer caused by HPV infections each year in the United States. Often these cancers—such as cancers of the back of the throat (oropharynx) and cancers of the anus—aren’t detected until later stages when they are difficult to treat, and affect both men and women.

How can I help protect my children?

Get your kids two shots of HPV vaccine at least 6 months apart at ages 11 or 12, finishing the two-shot series before their 13th birthday. Teens and young adults through age 26 who have not received the HPV shots should ask their doctor or nurse about getting them now—it’s not too late!

Teens and young adults who did not start the HPV vaccine series before they turned 15 will need three shots within six months for the best protection. Adolescents and young adults with a weakened immune system will also need three shots. Make an appointment today to get your child vaccinated.

If it has been a long time since your child got the first or second dose of HPV vaccine, you don’t have to start over—just get the remaining shot(s) as soon as possible.

***HPV VACCINE IS AVAILABLE AT PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENTS IN CHEROKEE, FANNIN, GILMER, MURRAY, PICKENS AND WHITFIELD COUNTIES. FIND CONTACT INFORMATION AT ABOVE LOCATIONS TAB***

Like all medical products, vaccines can cause side effects. The most common side effects of HPV vaccines are mild and go away on their own, such as pain and redness in the arm where the shot was given. Occasionally, patients might faint after receiving an injectable vaccine, or any shot. Preteens and teens should sit or lie down when they get a shot and remain there for about 15 minutes after the shot. This can help prevent fainting and any injury that could happen while fainting.

The cancer prevention benefits of HPV vaccination far outweigh the risk of these side effects.

North Georgians Urged to take Extra Precautions as Viral Illnesses Increase

sickNorth Georgia - North Georgia Health District officials report that there has been an increase in the number of stomach virus and influenza outbreaks in north Georgia and warn that the results could be severe, possibly requiring hospitalization.

 

“It is not too late to vaccinate against the flu,” said Sherry Gregory, RN, North Georgia Health District Infectious Disease Supervisor. “Flu activity is increasing throughout our area. We expect the flu season to reach its peak early this year, within the next few weeks, so it is important to get vaccinated now. Flu vaccination not only protects the person who receives the vaccine but it also keeps them from spreading the flu virus to others.”

 

Everyone 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated against the flu. Flu vaccination is especially important for people who are at greater risk for complications from flu and those who live with or care for these individuals. Groups of people that are at high risk for flu complications include children younger than 5 years, adults 65 years and older, and pregnant women. Medical conditions such as asthma, chronic lung or heart disease and diabetes can also increase the risk for flu complications.

 

“Flu vaccine is available at all our health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties,” said Gregory. For health department contact information, click on the LOCATIONS tab on the North Georgia Health District website at www.nghd.org.

 

Flu symptoms may include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, and/or, possibly, vomiting and diarrhea.

 

People at higher risk for complications from the flu should seek medical care as soon as they begin to feel ill, even if they have been vaccinated. They could benefit from antiviral drugs, that can reduce the risk of experiencing complications and reduce the severity and duration of illness. Antiviral drugs are most effective when given early in the onset of illness.

 

Stomach viruses, such as Norovirus, are very contagious and can infect anyone. These viruses can be spread to others by an infected person, through contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. These viruses can cause the stomach and/or intestines to become inflamed, which leads to stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms can be serious for some people, especially young children and older adults.

To reduce the spread of influenza and stomach viruses, take everyday preventive actions(https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits/index.htm) to stop spreading the viruses.

  • Get a flu shot – this will protect you against the flu virus, which will be especially critical if you are infected with some other virus.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them, especially avoiding healthcare facilities and long-term care homes.
  • Avoid having children inside healthcare facilities and long-term care homes to protect them from catching viruses and to prevent them from spreading viruses to the people who are there.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

For more information about influenza and its prevention, log onto to the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/index.html. Learn more about preventing the spread of stomach viruses at https://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/index.html.

Car Seat Mini Grant Awarded to County Health Departments in North Georgia

 BUCKLE UP RIGHT, EVERY TRIP, EVERY TIME!

Child seat is checked by health department staffNorth Georgia – County health departments in the North Georgia Health District were awarded the 2018 Car Seat Mini-Grant by the Georgia Department of Public Health, Injury Prevention Program. Through the Mini-Grant, Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield County Health Departments and local collaborative partners work together to provide car seats and education to financially eligible families. This program is funded by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to help ensure Georgia’s children are safe while riding in motor vehicles. 


And it works! Since 2007, the education, car seats and booster seats provided through the mini grant prevented serious injury or death and saved 344 of Georgia’s children who were involved in crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car seats reduce fatal injuries by 71 percent among infants and by 54 percent among children ages 1 to 4 years in passenger cars. Car seats offer the best protection for children in the event of a crash, and they are most effective when installed and used correctly. Nearly three out of every four car seats are not used properly, placing children at unnecessary risk.

 

“The Car Seat Mini-Grant helps us meet the responsibility of keeping our children safe here in North Georgia,” said Marie Smith, RN, BSN, North Georgia Health District Nursing Director. “It provides us the opportunity to work with partners in each of our communities to help protect our children from serious injuries or death in motor vehicle crashes.”

 

In Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties, the health departments and their collaborative partners, including county EMAs, Georgia State Patrol representatives, local fire departments and law enforcement agencies, educate parents and caregivers on how to properly install and use car seats, offer car seat inspections and provide car seats and booster seats to financially eligible families.

 

Through the Car Seat Mini-Grant, agencies supporting more than 130 counties are working to keep Georgia’s children safe. These programs help families get their children buckled up right, every trip, every time.

 

For more information about the car seat program at health departments in North Georgia, log onto www.nghd.org and click on the LOCATIONS tab to find contact information for each county health department in the North Georgia Health District. If you would like information regarding other Georgia counties involved in the program, please contact the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Child Occupant Safety Project via email at injury@dph.ga.gov or by calling 404-463-1487. 

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