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Zika Virus Information for Travelers from the Georgia Department of Public Health

DPH Logo SmallThe World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The Georgia Department of Public Health cautions travelers, especially women who are pregnant, to protect themselves againstZikaVirusBanner-Protect-Prevent-small bites when heading to countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. 

There are urgent concerns about Zika virus infection and pregnant women. Zika virus infections have been confirmed in infants with microcephaly and in the current outbreak in Brazil, a marked increase in the number of infants born with microcephaly has been reported. Pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant should not travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

For more information about Zika virus, please review the resources on this page, especially the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

Mosquito for web3Zika Virus Infection

Zika Guidance for Pregnant Women
Zika Prevention
EPA Registered Insects Repellents
Zika FAQ
DPH Zika Virus Campaign Materials

Zika testing guidance for physicians and laboratories

Zika Guidance for Physicians/Healthcare Providers (UPDATED 8/02/16)

Zika virus testing -- what laboratorians need to know (UPDATED 8/02/16)   Dr. Fitzgerald Zika Video                


Información sobre virus Zika en español                                                                            

Zika Precautions Urged for GA Travelers

Intl Travel Clinic logo with small tag-small
Message from the North Georgia Health District: Contact our Gilmer County International Travel Clinic for ALL your travel health needs, including information regarding Zika virus and how to best protect against it when planning your journey. Click on the travel clinic icon.
Click here to the Georgia Department of Public Health's website for the latest confirmed Zika cases in Georgia - Confirmed Zika cases by county
                                           GA DPH Zika Virus Infection Flyer in English                                    
Web-ZIKA.Fact Sheet.FINAL-4web Web-ZIKA.Fact Sheet.FINAL-2-4web  
                                           GA DPH Zika Virus Infection Flyer en Espanol
Web-ZIKA.Fact Sheet.FINAL.Spanish-4Web Web-ZIKA.Fact Sheet.FINAL.Spanish-2-4Web 

Thanksgiving Cartoon 2016-smallThanksgiving Day is often fondly referred to as Turkey Day. But, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that 80 percent of food borne illnesses are linked to meat and poultry, so proper handling and cooking of your holiday turkey is essential.

1. IMPROPER THAWING: If a turkey is not completely thawed it will not get done in the middle allowing Salmonella to survive.

    • Whenever possible, thaw turkeys in the refrigerator. However, it takes 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey. A 20 pound frozen turkey can take 4 to 5 days to thaw in a refrigerator.
    • Frozen turkeys can be thawed by sealing in a food-grade plastic bag and submerging in cold tap water. Change the water every thirty minutes. This method takes approximately 30 minutes for each pound of turkey. Using a small stream of running water is an even better method but the water must drain at the same time.   An ice chest is a good container for these methods although a kitchen sink may suffice.
    • NEVER thaw turkeys out at room temperature! Bacteria will grow on the outside of the turkey before the middle is thawed.
    • Microwave thawing is a possibility but most whole frozen turkeys won’t fit inside most microwave ovens. Cook the turkey immediately after removing from microwave.

2. IMPROPER COOKING: The middle of the turkey must reach 165ºF in order to kill all Salmonella and other bacteria. Don’t guess! Use a meat thermometer. Cook dressing separately - don’t stuff the turkey. Whether you bake, smoke or fry a turkey, the middle must reach 165°F.

3. IMPROPER COOLING: Never let a turkey sit out at room temperature for more than one hour after cooking. Many cases of Salmonella food poisoning have happened because the turkey was not thoroughly cooked and then allowed to sit out at room temperature all morning or all night. If the turkey is not served the day of cooking, it should be carved and placed in the refrigerator.

4. LEFTOVERS: Don’t leave leftovers sitting out a room temperature. After the meal, freeze or refrigerate leftovers in convenient smaller portions. Leftovers can be as or more dangerous than freshly cooked turkey. Your home refrigerator should be no higher than 41°F.

 Just follow these tips, and have a very happy and SAFE Thanksgiving!

WildfireRaccoon-smNorth Georgia - Recent woods and brush fires could cause wild or stray animals to move into residential areas.  Residents are strongly cautioned that contact with such animals could result in rabies exposure. Tell your children not to pet or have other contact with wild or stray animals. Very few wild or stray animals have or carry rabies but it is always best to leave them alone unless you or your pets are attacked. Never approach a wild or stray animal exhibiting abnormal behaviors such as appearing to be friendly, disoriented, sick or aggressive. 
USDA Wildlife Rabies Surveillance found a raccoon two months ago in Whitfield County that was positive for rabies; no human or domestic animal exposure occurred. The USDA recently distributed oral rabies vaccine baits for wildlife in Whitfield County to reduce rabies in raccoons, foxes, skunks, coyotes and bobcats.  
One of the easiest ways to protect your family is to ensure all pets have a current vaccination for rabies.  These vaccinations are inexpensive and are very effective in protecting your pets and your family in the event of an encounter with a wild animal.  
Report any potential rabies exposure such as a bite or scratch from a wild or stray animal to your local county Environmental Health office for investigation and advisement. Phone numbers for all our county Environmental Health offices can be found by clicking on the above LOCATIONS tab. Contact with bats or finding a bat in your home should be reported immediately. Your environmental health office can have animals tested for rabies if there is exposure.
Vaccinating your pets, avoiding contact with wild or unknown animals and teaching your children to avoid such contact will prevent rabies exposures. Human rabies treatments must be administered quickly after exposure and can be expensive.
For more information about rabies and its prevention, log onto the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at

North Georgia  - Due to smoky conditions that may occur in your area because of wildfire, public health officials of the North Georgia Health District urge residents to take precautions.

Smoke from a brushfire or wildfire is a mix of gases and particles from burning vegetation and other materials that can be harmful even to people who are healthy if there is enough smoke in the air. According to the Centers forBCMJ 52Vol10 cdc forest fire
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breathing in smoke can have immediate health effects, including:

  • Coughing
  • Trouble breathing normally
  • Stinging eyes
  • A scratchy throat
  • Runny nose
  • Irritated sinuses
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • An asthma attack
  • Tiredness
  • Fast heartbeat


Older adults, pregnant women, children, and people with preexisting respiratory and heart conditions may be more likely to get sick if they breathe in wildfire smoke.

If possible, limit your exposure to smoke. Here are some tips to help you protect your health:

  • When a brushfire or wildfire occurs in your area, watch for news or health warnings about smoke.
  • If you are told to stay indoors, stay indoors and keep your indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed unless it is very hot outside. Run an air conditioner if you have one - seek shelter elsewhere if you do not and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed.
  • Follow your doctor's advice about medicines and about your respiratory management plan if you have asthma or another lung disease. Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen.
  • Avoid smoke exposure during outdoor recreation.

For more information about protecting against wildfires, log onto the CDC website at