Healthy people, families, and communities.



Jasper (GA) – As a rabid raccoon attempted to attack a Pickens County, Georgia woman, her dog leapt to the rescue, saving her from harm.

According to Jan Stephens, manager of Pickens County Environmental Health, a couple in the Yellow Creek area of the county was walking around the edge of the woods with their dog early in the morning on Saturday, April 11, when a raccoon suddenly ran aggressively toward the woman’s foot. The couple’s dog lunged at the raccoon and fought it before it could come into contact with the woman, and her husband beat the raccoon to death with a stick.

Stephens submitted the raccoon to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory that Monday, and the lab confirmed on Tuesday that the raccoon was positive for rabies.

Because the dog was properly vaccinated against rabies, it was only necessary to give the pet a booster rabies shot. If the dog had not been vaccinated, the couple would have been faced with either euthanizing their pet or keeping it in strict quarantine for six months.

Several positive rabies cases have occurred in the Yellow Creek area in past years, so residents should be alert to animals behaving strangely.

raccoon2Blue Ridge (GA) – The third case of rabies this year in Fannin County, Georgia – and the second in a raccoon – has been confirmed by the Georgia Public Health Laboratory, according to Fannin County Environmental Health officials.

Shannon Bradburn, local environmental health specialist, said a resident at a home about five miles south of Blue Ridge on Aska Road near Scenic Hollow Road, heard a commotion outside the home at approximately 11 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14. The resident investigated the noise and found a raccoon growling at two kittens that live on the property, so the resident shot and killed it.

The raccoon was prepared for shipment and sent to the state laboratory on Wednesday. Late Thursday afternoon, local environmental health officials received the report that the test results were positive for rabies.

Bradburn stated, “Our office contacted the homeowners, and though it seemed unlikely the young kittens had actually come into contact with the raccoon, they had not yet received their initial rabies vaccinations, so the owners decided to maintain both animals in strict double-penned enclosures.”

Instructions for constructing these enclosures were provided to the homeowners through a link on the North Georgia Health District’s website at

“We will be working with the residents over the next few days in ensuring that the pens are built to required specifications,” said Bradburn, “and we will be monitoring both animals over the next six months, which is the required period for quarantine.”

There was no human exposure, and though the home where the incident occurred is on a large tract of private land that is surrounded by U.S. Forest Service property and far away from other residents, local environmental health officials went to the nearest homes today to provide alert notifications and rabies informational materials.

National Infant Immunization Week is April 18 – April 25, 2015

North Georgia National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is April 18 – April 25, 2015, and North Georgia Health District 1-2 of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) urges residents to protect infants from vaccine-preventable diseases. We can all help by ensuring our little ones and everyone around them, are vaccinated and up-to-date on their immunization schedules.

“Vaccines are crucial to protecting children before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases,” said Sheila Lovett, Interim Director of the Georgia Immunization Program. “Immunization is a shared responsibility and we as parents, family, friends and health care providers can help keep our children and our communities protected by staying current on our immunization schedule. We urge parents to speak with their pediatrician or health care provider at every visit to make sure their infant is up-to-date on vaccinations.”

According to the most recent data available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Immunization Survey, Georgia immunization rates for Tdap were below the national average, ranking them 39th compared to other states. Similar to national trends, the number of pertussis cases in Georgia increased in 2014 with 396 pertussis cases reported to DPH compared to the 269 cases reported in 2013. Of those 396 pertussis cases reported in 2014, 99 (26.8%) were infants < 12 months of age.

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.

Please see the following recommended immunization schedule for young children:

Infant Immunization Schedule as of 2015

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.

*Please note that due to the threat of severe weather on Saturday, April 25, the Community Disaster Awareness Day event has been cancelled.*

Public is urged to participate during three-day event!

WhitPrepareAthonBanner-webDalton (GA) - Whitfield Emergency Management Agency (EMA) is partnering with FEMA, GEMA, National Weather Service, Whitfield County Local Emergency Planning Committee, and WDEF-TV, to sponsor Whitfield’s PrepareAthon! Weekend, an innovative communitywide emergency preparedness campaign designed by FEMA.

Whitfield is the first county in Georgia to hold such a PrepareAthon!, with three days of special events starting Friday, April 24 through Sunday, April 26 to increase community emergency preparedness and resilience through hazard-specific drills, group discussions, and exercises.

    • Friday, April 24, schools and businesses will conduct tornado drills.
    • *Saturday, April 25 – the Community Disaster Awareness Day event will be held from 10 am – 2 pm at Home Depot at 875 Shugart Road in Dalton.*
    • Sunday, April 26 – Whitfield EMA will work with faith-based organizations to get them prepared.


To have your organization participate in a tornado drill that Friday or in the faith-based events that Sunday, sign up at

WDEF-TV’s Chief Meteorologist Patrick Core is working with Whitfield EMA to promote the PrepareAthon! in Whitfield.

Unvaccinated dog euthanized


raccoonMorganton (GA) – The second case of rabies in Fannin County this year was confirmed late yesterday afternoon in a raccoon that had attacked a dog in its pen in Morganton.


An employee of the Appalachian Animal Hospital in Ellijay called the Fannin County Environmental Health office on Monday, April 6, to report that a Morganton resident, living on Old Highway 76 near Loving Road, had found the raccoon in the pen at the residence at around 7 A.M. on Saturday, April 4. The raccoon escaped the pen, but the resident shot it and immediately brought the body to the animal hospital.


The owner discovered the dog had received a scratch on its nose.


A Fannin County Environmental Health official picked up the raccoon on Monday and shipped the specimen to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory for rabies testing.


The following day, Tuesday, April 7, the lab reported the test results were positive for rabies.


Because the dog was not current on its rabies vaccination, the owner had it euthanized later that evening.


No human exposure was reported.


Meredith Vance of Canton celebrates as the winner of the Kick Butts 5K in Holly Springs-webHolly Springs (GA)Some came to run, others to walk. Many arrived to cheer. But it was clear that everyone involved in the Kick Butts 5K in Holly Springs, Georgia last Saturday was there to win the race against tobacco-related illness.

Presented by the Cherokee Youth Council and supported by Cherokee Focus and the North Georgia Health District, the Kick Butts 5K was a first-time Black Bag Race Series event that started at Holly Springs Elementary School and doubled back to the finish line at nearby Barrett Park.

Of those who competed in the race, all top three winners were from Canton.

Meredith Vance was the first place winner at twenty-five minutes and fifty-nine seconds. Kristina Meyer came in second, and in third place was Dane Viker.

Ryan Schmidt of Kennesaw placed fourth. Mindie Felcher from Marietta came in fifth, and Nate Hayward of Canton was the sixth place winner.

Ryan Schmidt 4th place winner of the Kick Butts 5K participated to help people quit smoking-webFor fourth-place winner, Schmidt, this race was so much more than a competition.

“When growing up, I had a friend at eight years old whose mom died from lung cancer – she was only 31,” said Schmidt, now age 25. “More personally, I had two grandparents die from lung cancer and another from emphysema. So, yes, I take the fight against tobacco very seriously.”

Schmidt said other family members smoke and are starting to experience the negative effects of a lifelong addiction to tobacco. “If I can help just one person quit smoking, then I want to do it,” he said.

Anna Lee Stone, a senior at Cherokee High School in Canton and member of the Cherokee Youth Council, also lost grandparents to tobacco-related diseases, so she was motivated to make the fight against tobacco the focus of her senior project.

“Tobacco affects everybody, including kids,” Stone said. “If kids can start learning at a young age how it affects them, then chances are much greater they will never pick up that first cigarette or try using tobacco in any form.”