Oral Rabies Vaccination Bait Drops Occuring in Walker County

Chattanooga, TN – Over the next several days, you may notice a helicopter flying in a pattern over Walker County.  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is dropping oral rabies vaccination baits across our community and others, in an effort to protect people and pets — by preventing rabies in wildlife.  

Operating out of the Chattanooga Airport, USDA teams are currently targeting urban and suburban areas in Walker, Catoosa, Hamilton and Bradley counties.  They stock each helicopter with bait to toss into wooded areas while airborne. The baits are about the size of a ketchup packet and are coated with fishmeal.  

USDA distributes more than 10 million baits across 17 states every year.  This year, 1,270,000 baits will be dropped across Walker and surrounding counties.

Walker County sits right in the middle of the bait zone, which means after the USDA makes bait drops by helicopter to the northern end, (PIC) they will return in a couple of weeks to spread baits across the southern end using a fixed wing plane.

Rabies-Vaccine-Drop

While not harmful for pets, officials say you should leave these baits alone unless found in areas where children play.

Because of efforts like this, there hasn’t been a positive animal rabies case in Walker County since 2014.  

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Walker County Health Department Now Offering Flu Vaccines

Release submitted by the Georgia Department of Public Health, Northwest Health District

LaFayette, GA – The Walker County Health Department, located at 603 E. Villanow Street in LaFayette, is now offering flu vaccines.  Please call the health department at 706-638-5577 to schedule an appointment.

Public health experts say now is a good time for people to consider getting vaccinated for the upcoming flu season.  “Get your flu vaccine as soon as it is available each year,” says Tracy Pevehouse, nurse manager at the Walker County Health Department.  “There’s plenty of it available in our community right now, including at the health department, where we have the quadrivalent vaccine that provides broader protection against circulating flu viruses.  We also have the high-dose influenza vaccine, which is more effective for persons 65 years of age and older.”

Pevehouse says everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible.  Flu season can start early, and it takes about two weeks after your vaccination for the full antibody effect to develop and provide flu protection.  That’s why it’s better to get vaccinated in early October before the flu season really kicks in.

“The flu shot will last through the flu season,” Pevehouse says.  “It’s never too early to get a flu shot, as we cannot accurately predict when the influenza season will begin, but it can be too late.”  Flu season usually begins in October, but can begin as early as September and last well into March.  Peak flu season in Georgia usually occurs in late January and early February.

Who should get a flu vaccine?  Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season.  Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complication from influenza, including:

  • Children younger than five, but especially children younger than two years
  • Adults 65 years of age and older
  • Pregnant women and women up to two weeks postpartum
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who have medical conditions including asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, etc.

It is especially important to get the flu vaccine if you, someone you live with, or someone you care for is at high risk of complications from flu.  It’s also recommended that pregnant women get a flu vaccine during any trimester of their pregnancy.  There’s added value to the seasonal flu vaccine for pregnant women, too.  Not only does it protect them against the flu, it also protects their newborn infants, for up to the first few months of life, at a time when infants are too young to receive the vaccine themselves.

Acceptable payment methods include cash, credit-or-debit card, Medicare, Medicaid, Aetna, BlueCross BlueShield of Georgia, Cigna, and United Health Care SHBP.

Walker County Health Department hours are Monday – Wednesday 7:30 am to 5 pm, Thursday 8 am to 6:30 pm, and Friday 8 am to 2 pm.

For more information about seasonal influenza and flu vaccines, visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm

GMOs and their impact on insect populations webinar at Chickamauga Public Library

LaFayette, GA – One out of every three bites of food requires insect pollination and GMO
crops are not going away, at least any time soon.

Join UGA Extension Walker County on August 2nd at 2:00 p.m. at the Chickamauga Public Library (306 Cove Road) for the next “All Bugs Good and Bad” Extension webinar.

This month’s topic will explore the world of insects and how genetically modified crops impact their populations.  There is no cost to attend.  To sign-up please call the Walker County Extension Office at 706-638-2548.

How Walker Works – Taxing Authorities

LaFayette, GA – Local governments rely on property taxes to provide a substantial portion of the funds necessary to offer services that enhance the quality of life and safety of its citizens.

Every year, property owners receive a bill in the mail spelling out their total taxes due.  The amount differs based on where you live, due to the number of taxing authorities in each community and the funds each entity needs to operate.

In Walker County, there are eight main taxing authorities:

-Chickamauga City Schools
-City of Chickamauga
-City of Fort Oglethorpe 
-City of LaFayette
-City of Lookout Mountain
-City of Rossville
-Walker County Board of Education
-Walker County Government

A Downtown Development Authority also has taxing authority.

In Georgia, each taxing authority has the ability to raise or lower taxes on its own, without approval from any other authority.  For example, school systems — which make up the majority of taxes owed in most communities — do not need the approval of a city council or county commission, in order to set their portion of the millage rate. 

So, what do you get for your property taxes?  Schools use these funds to put teachers in every classroom… and pay for things like technology, supplies and buildings.  Cities and Counties use property taxes to fund law enforcement and courts, animal control, land use planning and zoning, fire protection, road and stormwater maintenance, code enforcement, transit and library and health department operations, among other services. 

Not every citizen will use every service available… but the combined offerings help build a community we can be proud to call home.

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Hepatitis A spreading among Walker County residents; Health Department offering free hep A vaccinations

This information comes from the Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District:

Rome, GA – Public health officials have confirmed 92 cases of hepatitis A among Walker County residents since June 2018 and are urging vaccination against the highly contagious liver infection for people most at risk of the vaccine-preventable disease, especially illicit (injection and non-injection) drug users, individuals who have recently been in jail or prison, and their close contacts.

Officials are also encouraging all persons who work in food-service establishments, such as restaurants and cafeterias, to be vaccinated.

The Walker County Health Department, 603 E. Villanow Street, LaFayette, is offering free hepatitis A vaccinations during regular business hours.  No appointment is needed.

The 92 hepatitis A cases have been confirmed in Walker County residents since a serious uptick in Georgia hepatitis A cases began last June. According to the CDC, Georgia is one of 18 states experiencing an outbreak of the highly contagious liver infection.

Since June 2018, 471 cases of hepatitis A have been confirmed statewide. Of these, 204 cases, 43% of the state total, have been in the ten-county Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District, which includes Walker County. The health district normally confirms, on average, one case per year.

Hep A totals and comparison 7 10 2019 (3)

“Hepatitis A is spreading among Walker County residents,” said Dr. Zachary Taylor, interim health director for the Northwest Health District, “and we want to stop it here before it gets to the level we’ve seen in other Northwest Georgia counties. The best protection against hepatitis A is vaccination.”

Those most at risk of hepatitis A include:

  • illicit (injection and non-injection) drug users
  • individuals who have a history of incarceration in  jail or prison
  • men who have sex with men
  • close contacts of people with hepatitis A
  • homeless or transient individuals
  • persons with close contact to someone with these risk factors

“We urge individuals with one or more of these risk factors, especially illicit drug use, to get vaccinated,” says Dr. Taylor. “If you’ve had hepatitis A, you have lifelong immunity to the disease and do not need to be vaccinated. Also, since hepatitis A vaccination is required for school-age children born on or after January 1, 2006, these individuals do not need vaccination.”

“Adults should get the vaccine if they fit into one of these risk factors.  If they don’t, their risk is so low that getting vaccinated is a matter of personal preference.  If you are not sure whether you should get the hepatitis A vaccine, talk with your doctor about your specific concerns.”

The best way to prevent hepatitis A is to practice good hygiene, proper handwashing, careful and sanitary preparation of food, and by getting vaccinated against the hepatitis A virus.

The increase in Northwest Georgia hepatitis A cases, public health officials believe, is related to a hepatitis A outbreak in neighboring Tennessee that has sickened over 1,600 people since December 2017. “We noticed the spread of illness go across the state line from Tennessee into Georgia,” says Northwest Health District Epidemiologist Melissa Hunter, “and we’ve watched it move south, roughly following U.S. Highway 27, I-75, and their surrounding counties, propelled by illicit drug use, both IV and non-IV.”

Public health, of course, has done more than just monitor the southward movement of the disease, says Dr. Taylor. “We’ve responded to the outbreak by working with local healthcare providers and other community partners to educate and encourage vaccination for those in high-risk groups, we’ve held free-vaccination clinics at our county health departments, and we’ve worked with our jails and prisons to provide free vaccinations.  Our environmental health inspectors have worked closely with managers and operators of food-service establishments to minimize the possibility of hepatitis A transmission from an infected worker to customers.”

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, communicable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. It is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water.

Most people who get hepatitis A feel sick for several weeks, but they usually recover completely and do not have lasting liver damage. In rare cases, hepatitis A can cause liver failure and death; this is more common in people older than fifty and in people with other liver diseases.

Most adults with hepatitis A have symptoms, which may include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark-brown urine, light-colored stools, and jaundice, that usually resolve within two months of infection; most children less than six years of age do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection. A doctor can determine if you have hepatitis A by discussing your symptoms and taking a blood sample.

You should get hepatitis A vaccine if you:

  • use illicit drugs
  • work in the food-service industry
  • are traveling to countries where hepatitis A is common
  • are a man who has sex with other men
  • have a chronic liver disease such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C
  • expect to have close personal contact with someone who is at risk of having hepatitis A

Ask your healthcare provider if you want more information about any of these groups. There are no known risks to getting hepatitis A vaccine at the same time as other vaccines.

For more information about hepatitis A and free hepatitis A vaccinations, contact the Walker County Health Department at 706-638-5577 or visit https://nwgapublichealth.org

Northwest Georgia Health Departments to provide free hepatitis A vaccine clinics in May

This news release comes from the Georgia Department of Public Health, Northwest Health District:

Northwest Georgia Health Departments in Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon and Walker Counties will provide free hepatitis A vaccine to individuals at risk of the highly contagious, highly preventable liver disease every Friday in May. Clinics will be held at each health department on May 3, 10, 17, 24, and 31, from 8 am to 2 pm.

Those at risk of hepatitis A include:

  • individuals recently released from jail or prison
  • men who have sex with men
  • recreational drug users
  • homeless or transient individuals
  • persons with close contact to someone with these risk factors

“We urge individuals with one or more of these risk factors to get vaccinated against this vaccine-preventable disease,’ said Dr. Unini Odama, Health Director for the Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District. “The best way to prevent hepatitis A is to practice good hygiene, proper handwashing, careful and sanitary preparation of food, and by getting vaccinated against the hepatitis A virus.”

Georgia is one of 18 states experiencing a large number of cases of the highly contagious liver infection.  Most of the Georgia cases are currently clustered in Northwest Georgia.  Therefore, we are encouraging everyone to actively prevent the spread of hepatitis A and we are asking healthcare providers to be aware of the disease and its symptoms, which include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, diarrhea, joint pain, and jaundice.

Hepatitis A Infographic

For more information about hepatitis A, the free hepatitis A vaccination clinics, and addresses and contact information for your local county health department, visit https://nwgapublichealth.org

Hepatitis A Exposure Update: Restaurant Worker

Release from the Georgia Department of Public Health, Northwest Health District

Rome, GA:  The Northwest Health District’s ongoing investigation and surveillance in response to the Hepatitis A press release from 3/28/19 regarding McDonald’s at 106 Lafayette Road, Chickamauga, GA, indicate that there is a need to extend the risk period of hepatitis transmission to March 29, 2019. Therefore, health officials recommend anyone who consumed food or drink at this restaurant from March 4 through March 29, 2019 contact their healthcare provider or local health department to determine if a Hepatitis A vaccination is needed to prevent the disease.

The Hepatitis A vaccine is safe, effective, and well tolerated. It is the best protection against the Hepatitis A virus. Health officials also urge the public to continue to practice normal preventive measures of hand washing and sanitation.

Free Hepatitis A vaccination will continue to be provided at the Walker & Catoosa County Health Departments on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, April 3, Now – 6:00 pm
  • Thursday, April 4, 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Friday, April 5, 8:00 am – 12:00 Noon
  • April 8 to April 12 during regular hours of operation

(Walker County Health Department is located at 603 E. Villanow Street, LaFayette, GA. Their number is 706-638-5577.)

Anyone who consumed food and/or drink at the restaurant during this time should also:

  1. Monitor their health for symptoms of Hepatitis A infection up to 50 days after exposure.
  2. Wash their hands with soap and warm water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food.
  3. Stay home and contact your healthcare provider immediately if symptoms of Hepatitis A infection develop.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, dark-colored urine and light-colored stools. Yellowing of the skin or eyes may also appear.  People can become ill up to fifty days after being exposed to the virus.

Hepatitis A is acquired when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. The virus spreads when an infected person does not wash his/her hands adequately after using the toilet or engages in behaviors that increase risk of infection. Careful hand washing, including under the fingernails, with soap and water, along with vaccination of anyone at risk of infection, will prevent spread of this disease.  

For more information on hepatitis A, go to www.cdc.gov/hepatitis or https://nwgapublichealth.org

 

Potential Hepatitis A Exposure from Restaurant Worker

News Release from the Georgia Department of Public Health, Northwest Health District:

The Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District officials have confirmed a case of hepatitis A in a food handler at McDonalds, 106 Lafayette Road, Chickamauga, GA. An investigation found that this employee worked at the restaurant while infectious, from March 4 through March 17. While it is relatively rare for restaurant patrons to become infected with hepatitis A virus due to an infected food handler, there might be some risk to the public,” says District Health Director Dr. Unini Odama, and therefore we are doing everything necessary to protect the public and anyone that might have been inadvertently exposed to the hepatitis A virus.We recommend that anyone who consumed food or drink at this restaurant during this time contact their healthcare provider or local health department to determine if a hepatitis A vaccination is needed to prevent the disease. The hepatitis A vaccine is safe, effective, and well tolerated. It is the best protection against the hepatitis A virus. Additional protective measures, such as immune globulin injections, may be recommended for certain people.

Free hepatitis A vaccination will be provided at the Catoosa and Walker County Health Departments on Thursday, March 28, 8 am6:30 pm; Friday, March 29, 8 am2pm; and Saturday, March 30 from 8 am to 12 noon.

  • Walker County Health Department, 603 E. Villanow Street, La Fayette, GA 30728 706-6385577
  • Catoosa County Health Department, 145 Catoosa Circle, Ringgold, GA 7064062000

Anyone who consumed food and/or drink at the restaurant during this time should also:

1. Monitor their health for symptoms of hepatitis A infection up to fifty days after exposure.

2. Wash their hands with soap and warm water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food.

3. Stay at home and contact your healthcare provider immediately if symptoms of hepatitis A infection develop.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, darkcolored urine and lightcolored stools. Yellowing of the skin or eyes may also appear. People can become ill up to fifty days after being exposed to the virus. Hepatitis A is acquired when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. The virus spreads when an infected person does not wash his/her hands adequately after using the toilet or engages in behaviors that increase risk of infection. Careful hand washing, including under the fingernails, with soap and water, along with vaccination of anyone at risk of infection, will prevent spread of this disease.

For more information on hepatitis A, go to www.cdc.gov/hepatitis or https://nwgapublichealth.org