First Confirmed Case Of Measles In Georgia

ATLANTA—The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is confirming the state’s first reported case of measles since 2012. The infected infant arrived in Atlanta from outside of the U.S. and is being cared for at Egleston at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA). DPH is working with CHOA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to identify anyone who may have been exposed to the patient and to prevent further spread of measles.

Measles is a highly contagious, serious respiratory disease. It is particularly dangerous for infants who cannot be immunized until they are at least six months old and young children who have only received one dose of measles vaccine.

Measles spreads when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes and respiratory droplets travel through the air. Measles virus can live in the air and on surfaces for two to three hours. Almost everyone who has not been vaccinated will get measles if they are exposed to the virus.

Symptoms of measles include:

• Fever (can be very high)

• Cough, runny nose and red eyes

• Tiny white spots on the inner lining of the cheek—also called Koplik’s spots

• Rash of tiny, red spots that start at the head and spreads to the rest of the body (spots may become joined together as they spread)

There is no cure for measles, but measles can be prevented through vaccination. The measles vaccine (MMR) is highly effective, in most cases about 97 percent effective.

“Keeping immunization levels high is critical to preventing outbreaks or sustained transmission in Georgia,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “More than 98 percent of children heading into kindergarten in our state have received all school required vaccines, which includes two doses of measles vaccine.”

Doctors recommend 2 doses of MMR vaccine for best protection. The first dose is given to children 12-15 months old, the second dose between 4-6 months. Students at colleges and universities who do not have evidence of immunity against measles need two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days. Adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine, especially if they are considering travel outside of the U.S. or were born in the early 1960’s when a less effective vaccine was used. A simple blood test can determine if a person has measles immunity.

Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, because of high population immunity achieved by very effective measles vaccine coverage. But measles still exists in many parts of the world, and outbreaks can occur in the U.S. when unvaccinated individuals or groups are exposed to imported measles virus. Since 2002, there have been 11 reported cases of measles in Georgia—including this current one—all were imported cases or linked to an imported case.

DPH also continues to closely monitor the large, multi-state measles outbreak linked to Disneyland Resort Theme Parks in California. Since January 1, 2015, more than 100 people from at least 14 states were reported to have measles, the majority of them with ties to the Disneyland outbreak. Most of the case-patients were unvaccinated or had unknown vaccination status. This current Georgia case is unrelated to that outbreak.

“We don’t need to be alarmists. We need to be aware,” said Patrick O’Neal, M.D., director of Health Protection at the Georgia Department of Public Health. “What happened in Disneyland is an alert that we live in a world now in which international travel is very common and frequent, and diseases are only hours away.”

For more information about measles and measles vaccine visit www.dph.ga.gov.

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is the lead agency in preventing disease, injury and disability; promoting health and well-being; and preparing for and responding to disasters from a health perspective. In 2011, the General Assembly restored DPH to its own state agency after more than 30 years of consolidation with other departments. At the state level, DPH functions through numerous divisions, sections, programs and offices. Locally, DPH funds and collaborates with Georgia's 159 county health departments and 18 public health districts. Through the changes, the mission has remained constant – to protect the lives of all Georgians. Today, DPH’s main functions include: Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Maternal and Child Health, Infectious Disease and Immunization, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Emergency Medical Services, Pharmacy, Nursing, Volunteer Health Care, the Office of Health Equity, Vital Records, and the State Public Health Laboratory. For more information about DPH, visit www.dph.georgia.gov.


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AFPLS To Open New East Roswell Library

Atlanta—The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System announces the grand opening of the new East Roswell Library, which will open to the public with a celebration on Friday, February 20 at 11:00 a.m.

The new 15,000-square-foot library for East Roswell is part of Phase I of the Library Building Program. The library is located at 2301 Holcomb Bridge Road in Roswell.

KHAFRA Engineering Consultants, in association with Holzheimer Bolek Meehan Architects, provided design and engineering services for the new library. Ajax Building Corporation of Georgia provided construction management services on this project, and Heery/Russell, a joint venture, is the program management team.

The East Roswell Library’s design centers around a connection with its wooded surroundings creating a functional library space within a canopy of trees. The use of natural materials such as stone and wood combined with the large expanses of glass filter the boundary between the exterior and interior spaces of the library while providing views to patrons looking out from within the building. A welcoming covered bridge entry leads visitors into the space where they are immediately presented with views through the building and into the natural landscape beyond. The community will enjoy and use its meeting room, study rooms and separate spaces for children and teens.

In November 2008, Fulton County voters overwhelmingly passed the Library Bond Referendum. The plan will greatly enhance all of the county’s libraries, and includes 8 new branch libraries: Alpharetta, East Roswell, Milton, Northwest Atlanta, Palmetto, Southeast Atlanta, Metropolitan and Wolf Creek and two expansion projects: Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History and the South Fulton Library. The Library Building Program plan maintains 34 libraries, the current number of libraries in the system, by eliminating leased spaces and its oldest libraries. Green building design and sustainability are priorities for these library building projects, and the Library System expects to achieve LEED Silver on all of the Phase I projects.

An important part of each new library is its public art project. Through the Fulton County Art in Public Places Resolution, 1% of each building project budget goes toward the creation of public art. For the East Roswell Library, artist Chris Condon was selected through a community-driven selection process, and has produced a series of wood and stone sculptures of woodland animals visitors will see throughout the library entitled, New Growth Forest.

Those attending the event are asked to park in the front parking lot of East Roswell Park, located at 9000 Fouts Road, Roswell, and a shuttle will take attendees from this location to the ceremony; there is no parking available at the site the morning of the event.

For more information or to R.S.V.P. please call 404-730-1977 or email zenobia.claxton@fultoncountyga.gov. To keep up-to-date on the Library Building Program or other library events, visit www.afpls.org.

Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System is the largest in the state, with 34 libraries and a collection of more than 2.3 million items. It offers innovative programs, services and virtual resources tailored to meet the needs of each branch's community. Children, teens and adults may choose from a variety of classes, visit exhibitions, listen to authors discuss their work, check out videos, DVDs and CDs, attend book club discussions, get homework help, hear music and see live performances. Last year patrons borrowed more than 2.7 million items, made 3.4 million visits to the libraries and our website had over 7.9 million hits.


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Tax-Saving Strategies To Help Your Family This Tax Season

Millions of Americans face a challenge in meeting their budgets every month—not just financially, but also in their time budgets, says investment advisor Reid Abedeen.

“Knowledge is power and time is often money, but what if you don’t have the time to empower yourself with knowledge? For many households, that often means losing out on thousands of dollars through tax deductions,” says Abedeen, a partner at Safeguard Investment Advisory Group, LLC (www.safeguardinvestment.com ).

“As a family man myself, I understand what it means to work hard to provide the best possible for my wife and children. Had I not worked in the financial sector for almost two decades, I might not have understood how to best troubleshoot my tax return, I sympathize.”

Abedeen offers the following strategies that may be relevant for your family this tax season.

• Take tax deductions for capital loss. If your capital losses exceed your capital gains, the excess can be deducted on your tax return and used to reduce other income, such as wages, up to an annual limit of $3,000, or $1,500 if you are married filing separately. However, you may deduct capital losses only on investment property, not on property held for personal use.

• Fund your retirement to the max. You can contribute up to $5,500 to an IRA in tax-year 2014, or $6,500 if you are age 50 or older. Workers in the 25 percent tax bracket who contributed $5,500 to an IRA would save $1,375 on their 2014 tax bills. You’ll want to check your eligibility and understand the deadline for the 2014 deduction. If you make a deposit between Jan. 1 and April 15, you need to tell the financial institution which year the contribution is for.

• Advisory fees are tax-deductible. Don’t feel like spending money to save and make money? There’s a workaround. Before closing the door on the possibility, inquire with a financial expert. Most are happy to give a free initial consultation, and you don’t have to be a millionaire to make it worth your while.

• Gift assets to children. You don’t even have to file a gift tax return on an asset that’s valued less than $12,000, which is not taxable. If the fair market value of the gifted asset is more than $12,000 per person per year, but less than $1 million, there is the requirement of filing a gift tax return, but you won’t be taxed. The gift still is not income taxable to the recipient.

• Deduct a home-based office when used for your employer. If space in your home is used exclusively and regularly for a trade, you can count that as a deductible. Calculate the square footage of your home office and divide the area of your office by the area of your house. If the percentage is 14 percent, for example, that represents the percentage of your total home expenses that can be allocated toward the home office deduction. For further questions, consult a professional.

“You’ll want to be very vigilant regarding these details of these deductions,” Abedeen says. “For any questions, I seriously recommend consulting a professional.”

Reid Abedeen is a partner at Safeguard Investment Advisory Group, LLC (www.safeguardinvestment.com . As an investment advisor, Abedeen has helped retirees for nearly two decades with issues such as insurance, long-term care planning, financial services, asset protection and many other areas. He holds California Life-Only and Accident and Health licenses (#0C78700), and holds a Series 65 license, and is registered through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Abedeen is a family man who owes much of his fulfillment in life to his wife, Smyrna, and his three children, Yusef, Leena and Adam.


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