Save the date! Join VDH and the American Public Health Association in celebrating National Public Health Week.

Public health is crucial to our society. It counters threats to our individual and collective health and promotes practices that help every American live as long and as well as they can. That’s why VDH is excited to be a part of National Public Health Week 2024, celebrated April 1-7. This year, we’re joining the American Public Health Association in “Protecting, Connecting and Thriving: We Are All Public Health.”

So how can you get involved? Celebrate and reinforce gratitude and support for public health and advocate for services that support community and well-being for all. Look for ways to strengthen your community connections, locally and globally. There are countless ways to make your voice heard and become part of the movement for public health!

For more information, and to make connections, join VDH, APHA and NPHW across social media. Learn more about this year’s daily themes, and don’t forget to RSVP to events throughout the week. Let your voice be heard! You can also check out APHA’s toolkit for other ways you can keep the momentum going in your community.

Join us as we promote effective policy and practice and build a brighter, healthier future for all!

World TB Day

Can you name a disease that plagued Egyptian royals, was once associated with vampires, and that was the leading cause of death due to infectious disease until the COVID-19 pandemic?

If you guessed tuberculosis, you are correct!

Tuberculosis, often abbreviated “TB”, is a contagious illness that is caused by bacteria known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The disease mainly impacts the lungs, but it can infect any part of the body. TB spreads from person to person through tiny droplets in the air called “aerosols” that contain TB bacteria. When someone breathes in these droplets, they can settle in the lung where the TB bacteria multiply.

In most people infected with TB, the body can “wall off” the bacteria so they aren’t able to cause active disease. This is called latent tuberculosis infection, or LTBI. But in about 5-10% of people, the body is not able to contain the infection and they develop active TB, also known as TB disease. People with active TB often have symptoms such as a cough lasting three or more weeks (sometimes with blood), fevers, night sweats, and weight loss. Thankfully, it is possible to treat TB with a combination of antibiotic medications, although treatment often lasts for many months.

The best way to prevent TB disease is to know if you have risk factors for TB such as living in a high incidence country, close contact with an active TB case, or medical conditions that can increase your risk of active TB such as HIV infection, diabetes, or the use of medications that suppress the immune system. Screening people for risk factors and testing those at high risk for TB disease is one of the important ways to find people with latent TB and treat them before it becomes a more serious, active illness.

Each year on March 24, we observe World TB Day. This day marks the anniversary of when Dr. Robert Koch discovered the bacteria that causes TB. Before Dr. Koch’s discovery, people were not sure how TB was spread. Many people thought it had to do with germs that floated through the air, but some people thought it was caused by visits from relatives who died from TB and came back as vampires to infect their families. (See? We didn’t forget to elaborate on that interesting fact!)

World TB Day doesn’t just mark the anniversary of an important scientific discovery, but also sheds light on the all the work that has been done to eliminate TB over many centuries. In many countries like the United States, TB is far less common than it was even 50 years ago. But worldwide, TB is still very common and is the second leading cause of death due to infectious disease—second only to COVID-19.

It takes the dedicated medical professionals, public health workers, and community partners to detect, diagnose, and treat cases of TB and LTBI. This World TB Day, the Virginia Department of Health acknowledges and celebrates the hard work of all those working toward TB elimination. And we acknowledge and offer our support to those with TB/LTBI and TB survivors who have overcome one of the most impactful infectious diseases in history!


Virginia Health Officials Investigating Potential Measles Exposures in Northern Virginia

January 13, 2024

Virginia Department of Health is Working to Identify People Who Are at Risk

(Richmond, Va.) – The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) was notified of a confirmed case of measles in a person who traveled through Northern Virginia when returning from international travel. Out of an abundance of caution, VDH is informing people who were at various locations, including Dulles International Airport on January 3, 2024, and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on January 4, 2024, that they may have been exposed. Health officials are coordinating an effort to identify people who might have been exposed, including contacting potentially exposed passengers on specific flights. more>>

National Handwashing Awareness Week

Washing your hands is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of germs. Did you know that you can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhea-related and 1 in 5 respiratory-related illnesses, just by washing your hands? It’s true! Good hand hygiene starts with washing your hands properly.  

Follow these five steps to clean hands.  

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water. Warm or cold is fine.  
  2. Apply soap and lather by rubbing your hands together. Remember to get the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. 
  3. Scrub for at least 20 seconds. You can hum the Happy Birthday song from beginning to end twice if you need a timer.  
  4. Rinse your hands under clean, running water.  
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them. 

Yes, it’s that easy!  

But, wait! What if soap and water aren’t available? You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer as well, but make sure it’s at least 60% alcohol. Need more information? Visit 

Aah! Fresh clean hands!  

September is National Preparedness Month and it’s the Perfect Time to Build a Kit, Make a Plan and Sign Up to Be Informed 

You may have heard that it’s important to “Build a kit, Make a plan and Be Informed” before severe weather or another type of emergency happens. 

September is National Preparedness Month, and it’s the perfect time to get prepared for emergencies that could force you to evacuate your home and require you to survive on your own for several days. 

Most of us know how to Stay Informed about the weather and other emergencies by reading or watching news outlets or signing up for alerts. You also can download the FEMA app, and listen to NOAA weather radio.

Building a kit means putting together important documents and items that you may need to survive if your power goes out or you need to evacuate.

But what about making a plan?

An emergency plan for your family means discussing ahead of time how you will communicate during an emergency. It also includes figuring out how to reconnect after the danger has passed. It involves having all the information you will need in one place, such as phone numbers, insurance information and more if you need to evacuate in a hurry or search for loved ones after an emergency. Before filling out the form, ask yourself a few questions: 

  • How will my family/household get emergency alerts and warnings?  
  • How will my family/household get to safe locations before and after emergencies?  
  • How will my family/household get in touch if cell phones, internet, or landlines don’t work?  
  • How will I let loved ones know I am safe?  
  • How will family/household get to a meeting place after the emergency? 

Topics on your form can include:    

  • Household information, including your address and phone number  
  • List of family members, including email addresses and medical information  
  • Information on schools, childcare, caregivers, and workplaces  
  • Emergency contacts  
  • Emergency meeting places where everyone can reconnect  
  • Doctors’ names and numbers  
  • Veterinarian information  
  • Insurance information  
  • List of medications and dosage  
  • Gathering important documents

Having a plan means that everyone will know exactly what to do in an emergency. To learn more about how to be ready for an emergency or disaster, visit the website.    


Stay Well and Enjoy Holiday Cookouts With a Few Food Safety Tips

Outdoor fun, especially when the weather is nice, includes picnics, barbecues, camping, outdoor parties and other activities. Don’t miss out on the fun by getting sick.

Typical symptoms of food-related illness are vomiting, diarrhea, and flu-like symptoms, which can start anywhere from hours to days after contaminated food or drinks are consumed.

When the air temperature and humidity climbs into the 70s and above, harmful bacteria growth increases rapidly, making handling food safely even more important.

Here are a few warm-weather food safety tips to help keep your festivities and food safe:


When preparing meals remember to follow these safety tips: 

  • Clean: Wash hands, cutting boards, utensils, and countertops. 
  • Separate: Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods. 
  • Transport food: It’s important to remember that harmful bacteria can start to grow when prepared food falls between temperatures of 40 -140 degrees. Perishable food transported without an ice or heat source won’t stay safe long. 
  • Thaw: Always thaw food in a refrigerator or place the frozen food in a cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs. Never thaw food at room temperature.    
  • Marinate: Safely marinate foods inside a refrigerator. Never marinate foods at room or air temperature, and do not re-use marinade. If it is to be used as a dipping or other sauce, save a portion of the mixture, keep it away from raw meat and store it in a refrigerator or cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs before serving.  
  • Coolers: Have several coolers. Have one that can be opened frequently and used for beverages, one for snacks and ready-to-eat foods, and one for meats.  
  • Trash: Have trash bags stored away from the serving and cooking area. Close or cover the trash bag when it’s not in use.   

Cooking Safety

The onset of warm weather often prompts many people to begin using their outdoor grills to prepare foods. The following tips can help reduce the risk of getting sick:  

  • Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds prior to cooking food.
  • Always cook foods to the proper temperature. Do not rely on the food’s color or firmness to determine if it’s thoroughly cooked. Always use a food thermometer and clean the probe end with soap and water before and after use.
  • When checking food with a thermometer, remove the food from the grill surface, place it on a clean plate, and then take the temperature in the thickest part of the food (not touching any bones).
  • Since grills and cooking surfaces may have cold spots or cook unevenly, check the temperature of each piece of meat on the grill.
  • Always use a clean plate and utensil for cooked foods; don’t use the same tongs or platter that you used to bring raw foods to the grill.
  • Check to make sure your grill tools are clean, in good condition, and not shedding any brush bristles.
  • Cooked foods on the grill surface can be moved off to the side in a hot holding area away from the hot coals or heating elements.
  • Store hot foods in a chaffing dish, table-top warmer, or in an insulated container.
  • Have mesh covers/tents to cover dishes to prevent flies and bugs from landing on the food. 


Keep these tips in mind when storing and eating leftovers:

  • Don’t leave food sitting out at room or air temperature for more than 2 hours. If the air temperature is 90 degrees or higher, then the time limit drops to one hour. The food should be thrown away if it sits out longer than that.
  • Refrigerate cooked leftovers within 2 hours and ensure the temperature in the refrigerator is at 40 degrees or below.
  • Divide leftovers into smaller portions and store in shallow containers in the refrigerator.
  • Leftovers should be eaten, frozen or discarded within 3 to 4 days.
  • Reheat cooked leftovers to 165 degrees as measured with a food thermometer. Sauces, soups and gravies should be reheated by bringing them to a boil.
  • When microwaving leftovers, make sure there are no cold spots in food where bacteria can survive.
  • When they are not in the fridge, keep cold foods at the proper temperature by storing them on ice (e.g., use an empty bowl, place some ice in the bottom, set the dish with the food product inside the bowl, fill ice around the food dish so that the ice level outside of the food dish is level with the food in the dish). Monitor the bowl and empty the water as the ice melts and refill with new ice. Use an inflatable cold tray and fill will ice, then set your cold food dishes into the ice tray.
  • Store coolers closed, in the shade or cover them. Store them in an air-conditioned area, if possible.

For more tips, visit the VDH Food Safety page and read more about Food Safety Fridays (#FoodSafetyFridays).

It’s Time to Recognize the Professionals Who Make Sure We Have Clean Water

On Friday, June 30, Virginia will recognize the professionals across the state who make sure we have clean and safe drinking water and who treat wastewater. A proclamation by Gov. Glenn Youngkin recognizes Friday as Drinking Water and Wastewater Professionals Day. The General Assembly passed Joint House Resolution 88 establishing the day in 2016. 

Without reliable drinking water and wastewater treatment, thousands of people would die each year from waterborne diseases. Thanks to these professionals who operate public and private drinking water and wastewater treatment plants, Virginia’s 8.6 million residents have water that is clean. 

 At the Virginia Department of Health, the Office of Environmental Health Services and local health departments monitor and oversee private projects and data related to safe drinking water and wastewater treatment. Programs include private wells, onsite sewage systems food and shellfish safety, marinas, waterborne hazards, healthy swimming and more. The Office of Drinking Water ensures public water systems provide a safe and adequate supply of drinking water by enforcing drinking water regulations, monitoring drinking water quality, applying engineering judgement, providing technical assistance and training, and financing improvements to drinking water systems.   

To learn more about drinking and wastewater treatment in Virginia, visit the VDH Office of Environmental Health Services and Office of Drinking Water websites.