VDH Provides Update about the Lake Anna Area Outbreak Associated with Memorial Day Weekend

Versión en español

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is providing an update on the outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in people who were in the Lake Anna area around Memorial Day weekend. The number of STEC cases (25) has not changed.

People who have been exposed to STEC typically develop symptoms within 3-4 days, but it can take up to 10 days. Among the 25 cases, 23 patients reported visiting the lake between May 24 and May 27 and the most recent illness onset date is June 4. Two patients did not visit the lake but had close contact with a person with STEC infection. VDH continues to investigate reports of ill patients and closely monitor the situation. It is possible that more outbreak cases will be identified.

As part of this investigation, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) collected water samples at six priority locations in Lake Anna on June 11 and June 17 that were tested at Virginia’s Department of General Services Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS). The purpose of this testing was to determine if there was fecal contamination (human or animal waste) in the water. Water test results for samples collected on both June 11 and June 17 indicated that fecal bacteria concentrations were well below a level of public health concern. This type of testing has some limitations. Water testing can provide clues about the water environment and level of general fecal contamination at a point in time, but they are not specific to all types of bacteria that can cause illness.

The timeline of illnesses and reported exposures, combined with water testing results, is reassuring; it suggests (but does not confirm) that the reported illnesses were associated with a lake exposure that occurred over the Memorial Day weekend. However, at this time, it is not known whether the type of E. coli that causes severe illness, STEC, is present in Lake Anna. VDH emphasizes that exposure to any natural body of water, including swallowing untreated water or swimming with open wounds, represents a possible health risk. Children under the age of five, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems) are at higher risk of contracting illness from natural bodies of water.

To prevent illness when swimming, boating, wading, or recreating in natural bodies of water, people should:

  • Never swallow untreated water, and don’t swim if the skin has cuts or open wounds. Natural waters, such as rivers, lakes, and oceans contain germs and contaminants, which can cause illness.
  • Avoid splashing water in faces and mouths.
  • Keep sand away from their mouth and children’s mouths. Sand contains germs that can cause illness if swallowed.
  • Wash hands after using the bathroom and before preparing and eating food.
  • Avoid swimming near storm drains (pipes that drain polluted water from streets).
  • Avoid swimming near livestock. Farm animals can carry germs that can cause a variety of illnesses in people.
  • Avoid swimming if they are vomiting or have diarrhea.
  • Avoid going in water if there is a green film on the water and keep pets out as well. This film might indicate an algal bloom and some algae produce toxins that can make people and pets sick.
  • Avoid going in the water if it is cloudier than usual. Cloudy water can be a warning that more germs are in the water than normal.
  • Shower or bathe after swimming to wash off possible germs and contaminants.
  • Avoid swimming for three days after a heavy rain. Heavy rain picks up anything it comes in contact with, including germs from overflowing sewage, polluted storm water, and runoff from land.
  • Properly dispose of human waste by discharging boat sewage at marinas with a pump-out unit or dump station.
  • Check with your healthcare provider before swimming in oceans, lakes, rivers, and other natural bodies of water if your body’s ability to fight germs is already affected by other health problems or medicines.

For the most current information about this outbreak, visit VDH’s website or call the VDH Call Center at 877-829-4682 (option 2). The VDH Call Center is open Monday–Friday (except holidays) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more healthy and safe swimming tips, visit www.SwimHealthyVA.com.


Versión en español

 Aviso de precaución para el baño en la sección superior del North Anna Branch
de Lake Anna en Louisa County, debido a la proliferación de algas nocivas
Se aconseja al público que evite el contacto con el agua en la sección de Lake Anna por encima de Route 522  

El Departamento de Salud de Virginia (VDH) está emitiendo un aviso de precaución para el baño en la sección superior de North Anna Branch de Lake Anna en Louisa County. Esta sección del lago está experimentando una proliferación de algas nocivas (FAN, por sus siglas en inglés). Se aconseja al público que evite entrar en contacto con esta zona específica del lago hasta que las concentraciones de algas vuelvan a niveles aceptables.  

La sección del lago que se encuentra actualmente bajo advertencia para el baño debido a niveles peligrosos de cianobacterias es: 

  • North Anna Branch (aviso publicado) — Desde las aguas inundadas superiores del North Anna Branch, incluyendo el “Sandbar” del lago y la corriente hacia abajo hasta el puente de Route 522. 

Algunas algas nocivas, llamadas cianobacterias, pueden causar erupciones en la piel y enfermedades gastrointestinales, como malestar en el estómago, náuseas, vómitos y diarrea. La zona a evitar puede verse en el mapa interactivo de proliferación de algas nocivas. Se puede consultar un informe actualizado de las zonas con advertencia en Lake Anna HAB Status Report 6.21.2024. 

Las cianobacterias pueden producir toxinas. Se detectó una cianotoxina tanto en Upper North Anna como en Pamunkey Branch, pero por debajo de niveles peligrosos para la salud. Se recomienda que las personas y las mascotas eviten nadar, hacer windsurf y paddle board y otras actividades que supongan riesgo de tragar agua. Otras actividades, como la navegación, pueden continuar siempre que se tomen las debidas precauciones en las zonas con aviso. 

 El control del agua en la zona del lago por encima de Route 208 está previsto (siempre que el tiempo lo permita) para la semana del 15 de julio. La proliferación de algas puede producirse cuando el agua caliente y los fertilizantes se combinan y crean condiciones favorables para su crecimiento. La mayoría de las especies de algas son inofensivas, pero algunas pueden producir sustancias irritantes o toxinas. Evite el agua descolorida o los residuos de color verde o verde azulado, ya que es muy probable que contengan toxinas. 

 Para prevenir enfermedades, debe: 

  • Evitar el contacto con cualquier zona del lago donde el agua esté verde o haya una señal de advertencia, EN CASO DE DUDA, ¡QUÉDESE FUERA! 
  • Nunca permita que los niños o las mascotas beban de cuerpos de agua naturales. 
  • Mantenga a los niños y a las mascotas alejados de las zonas en las que haya proliferación de algas nocivas y lávelos rápidamente con abundante agua limpia después de entrar en contacto con la espuma o el agua de las algas. 
  • Busque atención médica/veterinaria si usted o sus animales experimentan síntomas después de nadar en o cerca de una proliferación de algas. 
  • Limpie correctamente el pescado, retirando la piel y desechando todos los órganos internos, y cocínelo a la temperatura adecuada para garantizar que sea seguro para el consumo. 
  • Póngase en contacto con la línea directa Harmful Algal Bloom, llamando al 1-888-238-6154, si piensa que tiene síntomas relacionados con la exposición a las algas nocivas. 
  • Visite www.SwimHealthyVA.com para obtener más información sobre la proliferación de algas nocivas o para notificar una proliferación de algas o la muerte de peces. 

 Esta proliferación de algas nocivas no está vinculada con el brote de Escherichia coli productora de toxina Shiga (STEC, por sus siglas en inglés) en la zona de Lake Anna, ya que ese patógeno no está relacionado con las algas nocivas.   

VDH y el Virginia Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force (Equipo de trabajo para el control de proliferaciones de algas nocivas de Virginia), que incluye VDH, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (Departamento de Calidad Medioambiental de Virginia) y Old Dominion University Phytoplankton Laboratory (Laboratorio de Fitoplancton de Old Dominion University), seguirán vigilando la calidad del agua del lago. En general, las advertencias se retiran después de dos pruebas consecutivas con niveles aceptables de recuento de células de algas y/o concentración de toxinas. 

Para más información, visite: www.SwimHealthyVA.com 

Swimming Advisory Issued for Upper North Anna Branch of Lake Anna in Louisa County due to Harmful Algae Bloom

Public Advised to Avoid Water Contact with Section of Lake Anna Above Route 522

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is issuing a swimming advisory for the Upper section of North Anna Branch of Lake Anna in Louisa County. This section of the lake is experiencing a harmful algae bloom (HAB). The public is advised to avoid contact with this specific area of the lake until algae concentrations return to acceptable levels.

The section of the lake currently under a swimming advisory due to unsafe levels of cyanobacteria is:

  • North Anna Branch (advisory issued) — From the upper inundated waters of the North Anna arm, to include the “Sandbar” of the lake and downstream to the Route 522 Bridge.

Some harmful algae, called cyanobacteria, can cause skin rash and gastrointestinal illnesses, such as an upset stomach, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The area to avoid can be seen on an interactive Harmful Algal Bloom map. A status report containing the updated advisory areas may be viewed at Lake Anna HAB Status Report 6.21.2024.

Cyanobacteria have the potential to produce toxins. One cyanotoxin was detected at both Upper North Anna and Pamunkey Branch sites, but below levels of health concern. People and pets are advised to avoid swimming, windsurfing and stand-up-paddle-boarding, as well as other activities that pose a risk of ingesting water. Activities such as boating may continue with proper precaution in advisory areas.

Follow-up monitoring above Route 208 on the lake is planned (weather permitting) for the week of July 15.   Algae blooms can occur when warm water and nutrients combine to make conditions favorable for algae growth. Most algae species are harmless; however, some species may produce irritating compounds or toxins. Avoid discolored water or scums that are green or bluish-green because they are more likely to contain toxins.

To prevent illness, people should:

  • Avoid contact with any area of the lake where water is green or an advisory sign is posted,
    • WHEN IN DOUBT, STAY OUT!
  • Never allow children or pets to drink from natural bodies of water.
  • Keep children and pets out of the areas experiencing a harmful algae bloom and quickly wash them off with plenty of fresh, clean water after coming into contact with algae scum or bloom water.
  • Seek medical/veterinarian care if you or your animals experience symptoms after swimming in or near an algal bloom.
  • Properly clean fish by removing skin and discarding all internal organs and cooking fish to the proper temperature to ensure fish fillets are safe to eat.
  • Contact the Harmful Algal Bloom Hotline at 1-888-238-6154 if they suspect they experienced health-related effects following exposure to a bloom.
  • Visit www.SwimHealthyVA.com to learn more about harmful algae blooms or to report an algae bloom or fish kill.

This HAB is not associated with the outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) at Lake Anna area, as that pathogen is not associated with HABs.

VDH and the Virginia Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force, which includes the VDH, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and the Old Dominion University Phytoplankton Laboratory, will continue to monitor water quality in the lake. In general, advisories will be lifted following two consecutive test results with acceptable levels for algal cell counts and/or toxin concentration.

For more information visit www.SwimHealthyVA.com.

Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Vital Records Announces Customer Services Benchmark Achievements

The Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Office of Vital Records (OVR) is a one-stop shop for any number of personal records requests, including birth and death certificates, name amendments, and marriage and divorce records. The Office of Vital Records was created by the 1912 Acts of Assembly and on June 14, 2024, celebrated 112 years of serving Virginia. Today, more Virginians can access the Office’s services from the comfort of their own homes seven days a week, 24 hours a day. 

“Thanks to the collaboration, leadership and customer focus of the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Vital Records, Virginians are provided needed documents efficiently and effectively,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “These benchmark achievements are an excellent example of state government working together to address ongoing challenges and efficiently serve eight million Virginians.”  

“We are always seeking to improve how the Office of Vital Records interacts with the residents of the Commonwealth,” said Seth Austin, State Registrar and Director of VDH’s Office of Vital Records. “Our goal is to respond as quickly and as efficiently as possible when our customers need us.”  

The Office of Vital Records has made the below program enhancements and, as a result, has experienced the following: 

  • Online applications went live in April 2022, and since then, the Office has processed more than 300,000 applications for vital records.  
  • An online e-amendment portal for funeral homes was unveiled in 2023. This portal helps grieving families amend death certificates quickly. Previously, such transactions took place by U.S. mail and frequently took weeks to complete. Funeral homes can now complete these amendments in a matter of days. 
  • The customer experience has been considerably enhanced with call center and lobby wait times being significantly reduced. The average wait time for customers to speak with an OVR call center representative has decreased from an average of 43 minutes to 30 seconds.  
  • Application processing times which were previously 46 days in 2021 are now three to five business days. Amendment processing times, previously an average of 55 days, are now finished in five to ten business days. 
  • Marriage and divorce certificates previously required 60+ days before they were available for issuance. The Office set a goal of 30 days to have these certificates available to the public; now, the public can obtain these records in 27 days. 

“The staff at the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Vital Records work tirelessly to ensure that Virginians can efficiently access their vital records the moment they need it.” said Karen Shelton, MD, State Health Commissioner.  “These latest benchmark achievements are symbolic of the work Virginia’s state government does to serve Virginians.” 

The Office’s headquarters is located in Richmond at 2001 Maywill Street, Suite #101, Richmond, VA 23230; it is open to the public Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The vital records call center — (804) 662-6200 — is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The public may also apply for a vital record, pay for it, and receive updates on the request’s fulfillment online using this tracking tool. For more information, please visit the Office of Vital Records’ website, including frequently asked questions and other resources 

The public may also access Office of Vital Records services through their local health district offices and Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) offices. Use this Health Department locator tool to find your local health department office; please call ahead to ensure your local office offers the services you need to access. Use this DMV office locator tool to find a DMV office near you; DMV offices are open for walk-ins and appointments.

Virginia Department of Health Provides Update about the Lake Anna Area Outbreak Associated with Memorial Day Weekend

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is providing an update on the outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in people who were in the Lake Anna area on and after the Memorial Day weekend. To date, 25 STEC probable and confirmed cases have been reported to VDH: 21 in Virginia residents from the Central, Northern, and Northwest regions of the state and four in residents of other states. Most cases (76%) have occurred in children younger than 18 years of age. Severe STEC infections can progress to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can be particularly serious. To date, five HUS cases have been reported to VDH, all in children who required hospitalization.

VDH has been partnering with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in the collection of water samples at six priority locations in Lake Anna. There was an increase of STEC cases in the Rappahannock Health District during the first week of June. Soon after, the Office of Environmental Health Services initiated an investigation and began tracking the results. The first sampling event occurred on June 11 and the second event is planned for June 17. Water column samples were analyzed for bacteria, including E. coli, by the Department of General Services Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS), the state laboratory. Results for samples collected June 11 indicate all fecal bacteria concentrations were well below a public health level of concern. A map of the six sampled areas and the test results is available on the VDH outbreak website that was launched today.

VDH’s investigation is ongoing. No single cause of the outbreak has been identified, and it is possible we might not be able to identify the source. There is no indication that contaminated food was the source of the outbreak. Environmental pollution from heavy rains, livestock, failing septic systems, boating discharge, and swimmers are potential sources of illness when swimming in natural waters. Avoid swimming where livestock are present.

If you were in the Lake Anna area on Memorial Day weekend (May 24–27, 2024) or since and you experienced gastrointestinal illness (such as stomach cramps and diarrhea), contact your local health department and seek medical care if you are still experiencing symptoms.

To prevent illness when swimming and boating in natural waters, people should:

  • Never drink untreated water, and don’t swim if skin has cuts or open wounds. Natural waters such as rivers, lakes, and oceans contain germs and contaminants, which can cause illness.
  • Wash their hands after using the bathroom and before preparing and eating food.
  • Avoid swimming near storm drains (pipes that drain polluted water from streets).
  • Avoid swimming if they are vomiting or have diarrhea.
  • Avoid going in water if there is a green film on the water and keep pets out as well. This may indicate an algal bloom and some algae produce toxins that can make people sick.
  • Shower or bathe after swimming to wash off possible germs and contaminants.
  • Avoid swimming for three days after a heavy rain. Germs can come from overflowing sewage, polluted storm water & runoff from land.
  • Properly dispose of human waste by discharging boat sewage at marinas with a pump-out unit or dump station.
  • If your body’s ability to fight germs is already affected by other health problems or medicines, check with your healthcare provider before swimming in oceans, lakes, rivers, and other natural bodies of water.

VDH will provide future updates on our outbreak website on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Visit www.SwimHealthyVA.com for more healthy and safe swimming tips.

Governor Glenn Youngkin Honors Emergency Medical Services Award Recipients During EMS Week Celebration at the Governor’s Mansion

RICHMOND, Va. – On Monday, May 20, Governor Glenn Youngkin recognized the Governor’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Award recipients from 2023 during a special EMS Week ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion. The Governor’s EMS Awards honor the outstanding contributions of individuals, agencies, community organizations and businesses that provide or help support emergency medical care in Virginia. These awards are the highest honor an EMS provider or organization can receive at the state level, and they are administered by the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Office of Emergency Medical Services.

Governor Glenn Youngkin also proclaimed EMS Week in Virginia, May 19-25. This special week honored EMS providers’ commitment to respond to emergencies and provide critical care. EMS for Children Day, May 22, emphasized the pediatric patient and their required specialized treatment. This year’s EMS Week theme was, “Honoring Our Past. Forging Our Future,” and it acknowledges the foundational work of those who came before us, while also striving to build and lead the EMS System we envision for our future.

“During EMS Week, I had the honor of recognizing the 2023 Governor’s EMS Award recipients and thanked them for their incredible contributions to Virginia’s EMS System,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “Virginia’s EMS providers rush in to save Virginians who are sick or injured by providing the best prehospital care, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thank you for your heroic efforts and for protecting the well-being of all Virginians.”

“I join Governor Youngkin in honoring the recipients of these awards that recognize individual and organizational commitment and dedication to providing excellent emergency medical care. It is reassuring to know that throughout the Commonwealth when someone dials 911, there is a network of care ready to assist them, whether the call is for a stroke, a vehicle wreck, a severe allergic reaction, or some other emergency. Our EMS providers save lives every day, and we salute them,” said State Health Commissioner Karen Shelton, M.D.

Last year, EMS providers responded to more than 1.72 million calls for help in Virginia, which represents approximately 4,712 incidents per day. Virginia’s EMS providers respond to emergencies during our citizens critical moments from the time a 911 call is received to the arrival at the hospital.

“It is such an honor to recognize the dedication and contributions of the Governor’s EMS Award recipients,” said VDH Chief Operating Officer Christopher Lindsay. “It is so important to thank Virginia’s EMS providers for their life-saving efforts, not just during this special EMS Week, but every day! I have had the distinct privilege of serving as a volunteer EMS provider myself for the last 15 years alongside many amazing providers at my local rescue squad and I am honored to be able to recognize their outstanding contributions to Virginia’s EMS System.”

During EMS Week, Virginia EMS agencies hosted community activities, including first aid classes, health and safety fairs, open houses and more. These family-friendly events encouraged citizens to meet and greet the first responders in their neighborhoods.

Congratulations to the 2023 Governor’s EMS Award recipients:

  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Excellence in EMS – William “Bill” Akers, Jr., Southwest Virginia Paramedic Program, Lebanon Lifesaving Crew
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Outstanding Contribution to Leadership in EMS (The Kent J. Weber Trophy) – Beverly G. Harris, VCU Health System Critical Care Transport Network/LifeEvac
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Physician with Outstanding Contribution to EMS (The Frank M. Yeiser Trophy) – Benjamin D. Nicholson, M.D., VCU Health Department of Emergency Medicine & LifeEvac
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Nurse with Outstanding Contribution to EMS – Matthew J. Jensen, R.N., VCU Health System Critical Care Transport Network/LifeEvac
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Outstanding EMS Prehospital Educator – Michael Garnett, New River Valley Training Center
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Outstanding EMS Prehospital Provider – John “Jack” Kelley, Lake of the Woods Fire and Rescue
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Outstanding Contribution to EMS Health and Safety – James City County Fire Department
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Outstanding Contribution to EMS for Children – Jennifer S. Farmer, Lakeside Volunteer Rescue Squad
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Outstanding EMS Agency – James City County Fire Department
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Outstanding Contribution to EMS Telecommunication Amanda Echevarria, Chesapeake Police Department
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Outstanding Contribution to EMS Emergency Preparedness and Response (The James A. Nogle, Jr. Trophy) – City of Alexandria Community Emergency Response Team
  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Innovation Excellence in EMS – Northern Virginia Emergency Response System

An additional recognition is presented in conjunction with these awards for the outstanding contributions to EMS by a high school senior. This is a scholarship award provided by the Virginia Office of EMS in collaboration with the State EMS Advisory Board.

  • The Governor’s EMS Award for Outstanding Contribution to EMS by a High School Senior (The Dr. Carol Gilbert $5,000 Scholarship) – Kelsey Cone, Cave Spring Rescue Squad

To learn more about the VDH’s Office of EMS, visit https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/emergency-medical-services/.

2024 County Health Rankings Report Areas of Improvement in Virginia

(RICHMOND, Va.) – Earlier this week, the 2024 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (CHR&R), a program of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, released data highlighting health factors and measures for counties in Virginia. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) remains dedicated to its vision of Virginia becoming the healthiest state in the nation, as the data points towards areas of development and opportunities for improvement.

The CHR&R has been an essential source of data, evidence and guidance for over a decade, expanding the nation’s understanding of the multiple factors that shape health. This year’s CHR&R data release provides communities with an up-to-date, localized snapshot of the most recent health data available. Most notably, CHR&R has discontinued ranking counties by their health outcomes, opting instead to provide an indication of how a county fares in relation to other counties in the state and nation. This approach eliminates the idea that one county must outperform another to attain the “top spot,” and instead encourages a collective effort to improve health.

Virginia scores at or above the national average for a majority of the measures, including examples such as the percentage of workers who drive alone to work (71%), access to exercise opportunities (84%), and the unemployment rate among the working-age population in Virginia (2.9%). Health outcomes and metrics are varied from county to county.

“Understanding how a county fares in relation to other counties allows for sharing best practices and innovative initiatives to help address common health challenges and to celebrate successes,” said Chief Deputy Commissioner for Community Health Services Susan Fischer Davis, M.D. “This is an exciting and valuable change that will greatly benefit health districts and citizens across Virginia!”

This year’s CHR&R data release also enables communities in each state to identify opportunities for improvement. In Virginia, areas of improvement include reducing the percent of adults with obesity and reducing the number of drug overdose deaths.

With data on more than 80 measures relevant to health, the CHR&R data offers important context about the community conditions that support good health and advance health equity. In addition to state- and county-level data, the CHR&R program’s What Works for Health database offers more than 400 evidence-informed strategies to help communities improve health. Each strategy is rated for its effectiveness and likely impact on health disparities.

For more information on the 2024 County Health Rankings, visit www.countyhealthrankings.org. For more information on public health resources throughout Virginia, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/local-health-districts.

Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Vital Records Announces Top Baby Names of 2023, Other Interesting Virginia Birth Data

What to name the newest member of the family? It can be a nerve-wracking decision for new parents. Something out of scripture? A favorite singer or film star? A sports player or a Disney character? Virginia parents are choosing diverse names for their newborns. Today, the Office of Vital Records in the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) unveils its lists of Top 15 baby names for children born in the commonwealth in 2023, perhaps providing some inspiration for stressed-out parents-to-be.

Topping the list of the most popular names for boys in 2023 was Liam, while Charlotte was the most popular for girls, as it was in 2022. In 2022, there were 95,583 babies born; while the numbers for 2023 are still being counted, the Office of Vital Records estimates there were a similar number of births last year.

“It’s always fun to see what the most popular baby names will be in Virginia,” said Seth Austin, state registrar and director of VDH’s Office of Vital Records. “The inspiration for a name can come from so many different places, and no matter the inspiration, these new babies’ names will be central to their identity as they grow up and do great things in the world.”

Following Liam in popularity among Virginia parents in 2023 were Noah, James, Oliver, William, Lucas, Henry, Theodore, Benjamin, Levi, Elijah, Luke, John, Michael, Gabriel. Charlotte was followed by Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Amelia, Evelyn, Ava, Isabella, Elizabeth, Mia, Eleanor, Harper, Sofia, Luna, Abigail for girls in Virginia in 2023. And for your consideration, may we suggest “Virginia” as a suggestion as a little girl’s name if you’re expecting in 2024?

Office of Vital Records data also indicate the most popular 2023 baby names for the largest ethnic groups in the state: Asian, Black, Hispanic and White.

  • Among Asian babies born in 2023, Noah and Olivia were the most popular names. Lucas, Muhammad, Ethan and Alexander fill out the Top Five list for boys; Ava, Sophia, Sophie and Charlotte complete the Top Five list for girls.
  • For Black babies born in Virginia in 2023, Noah and Ava remained the most popular names from 2022. Amir, Josiah, Elijah and Legend round out the Top Five for boys, while Naomi, Nova, Serenity and Autumn fill out the Top Five for girls.
  • Liam and Mia remain the top names for Hispanic boys and girls born in Virginia in 2023, as they were in 2022. Lucas, Muhammad, Ethan and Alexander fill out the Top Five list for Hispanic boys’ names, while Ava, Sophia, Sophie and Charlotte complete the Top Five list for girls’ names.
  • James and Charlotte were the top names for White babies born in 2023, followed by William, Oliver, Henry and Liam for boys and Olivia, Emma, Amelia and Sophia for girls.

Half a century ago in 1973, VDH data shows that Michael and Jennifer were the most popular names for baby boys and girls born that year, retaining their top spots from 1972. James, Christopher, John, Robert, David, William, Brian, Jason, Kevin, Charles, Matthew, Richard, Thomas and Mark complete the Top 15 for boys’ names in 1973. Among girls in 1973, the rest of the Top 15 include Angela, Kimberly, Melissa, Amy, Michelle, Stephanie, Lisa, Heather, Mary, Rebecca, Elizabeth, Tammy, Crystal and Karen. Information about popular names in each of the 50 states going back to 1960 is available from the Social Security Administration by using its Popular Names by Decade tool.

Office of Vital Records data also reveals other interesting information about 2023 births.

  • The most births occurred in August with 8,426 babies delivered, but July 7 saw the greatest number of babies born on a single day – 332.
  • Fridays are the busiest day of the week in Virginia delivery rooms: 14,231 babies were born on a Friday in 2023; Sundays, on the other hand, are the slowest days of the week, with only 8,768 born on a Sunday in 2023.
  • There were 2,620 sets of twins born in Virginia in 2023, while there were 76 sets of triplets born in the state.
  • And on New Year’s Day 2023, 178 new Virginians came into the world.

The Office of Vital Records is Virginians’ one-stop shop for any number of personal records requests including birth and death certificates, and marriage and divorce records. The Office’s headquarters is located in Richmond at 2001 Maywill Street, Suite #101, Richmond, VA 23230; it is open to the public Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The vital records call center — (804) 662-6200 — is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The public may also apply for a vital record, pay for it, and receive updates on the request’s fulfillment online using this tracking tool.

The public may also access Office of Vital Records services through their local health district offices and Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) offices. Use this Health Department locator tool to find your local health department office; please call ahead to ensure your local office offers the services you need to access. Use this DMV office locator tool to find a DMV office near you; DMV offices are open for walk-ins and appointments.

Virginia Health Officials Investigating Potential Measles Exposures in Northern Virginia

January 13, 2024

VIRGINIA HEALTH OFFICIALS INVESTIGATING POTENTIAL MEASLES EXPOSURES IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA
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>>

Governor Glenn Youngkin Unveils Youth Mental Health Strategy on the One Year Anniversary of Right Help, Right Now Initiative

Announcing $500 million in additional Right Help, Right Now funding

Governor Glenn Youngkin joined behavioral health leaders, community partners and families who have struggled with behavioral health challenges in Richmond this afternoon to mark the accomplishments of the first year of the Right Help, Right Now (RHRN) behavioral health transformation plan in Virginia, outline next steps and funding for RHRN, and announce his Youth Mental Health Strategy.

On the one-year anniversary of the Right Help, Right Now plan, the Governor announced $500 million in new funding for the continued transformation of our behavioral health system, including the expansion of school-based mental health services. Additionally, the Governor outlined a Youth Mental Health Strategy and legislative package that would limit the addictive elements of social media platforms to protect children and empower parents with information and resources to best care for their children

“After a year of implementing critical changes in our mental and behavioral health system through my Right Help, Right Now plan, we are forging ahead with additional RHRN funding and a Youth Mental Health strategy to assist and support our next generation of Virginians,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. It’s clear that young Virginians face a myriad of challenges ranging from addictive social media platforms to an increasingly dangerous opioid epidemic to mental health challenges and we need to offer support. Our new Youth Mental Health Strategy will work to protect and support our young people from predatory practices online while also empowering families with new tools to support their children’s mental health.”

“The goal of Right Help, Right Now is to support Virginians before, during, and after a behavioral health crisis occurs. During the first year of this initiative, we have advanced key elements of the infrastructure needed to ensure that there is someone to call, someone to respond and somewhere to go in a mental health or substance use crisis,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources John Littel. “Year two of this transformation aims to ensure that families have more information about threats to children’s mental health as well as tools to support their children.”

After a year of the Right Help, Right Now plan, some of the incredible progress includes: the continued growth of the 988 suicide and crisis lifeline system through a marketing campaign, the launch of a behavioral health reserve corps of volunteers, awarded funding to build emergency room alternatives, expanded waiver slots for individuals with developmental disabilities on the priority one waitlist, and additional compensation for targeted state hospital staff.

“This is just the start of the work we are doing to transform our behavioral health care system,” said Nelson Smith, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. “We’ve seen tremendous progress over the last year as we have continued to build our crisis continuum of care, expand community-based services, strengthen our workforce, and modernize our systems. This was the result of a lot of hard work and creative and collaborative thinking by staff from across our system and state government.”

Youth Mental Health Strategy

To better equip parents and support our young people, Governor Youngkin is taking immediate action in year two of Right Help, Right Now. In 2023, according to Mental Health America, Virginia ranked 48th in the nation for youth mental health, which demands a collective and comprehensive approach to prioritize the health of the Commonwealth’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens. Children spend on average nearly five hours daily on social media; recent studies have suggested that children who spend more than a few hours per day on social media have double the risk of poor mental health. Through budget proposals, legislation and executive action the youth mental health strategy will address critical components and harmful aspects of social media on our youth.

To address addictive and harmful aspects of social media on youth:

  • We will protect minors from TikTok’s predatory influence in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • We will protect the privacy of all children under 18 years of age from social media companies by banning targeted advertising to children, selling children’s data, or creating a marketing profile of a child without parental consent.
  • We will prohibit social media companies from using addictive practices, designs, or features, such as auto-playing videos, gamification, and virtual gifts, on children.
  • We will give parents the ability to implement guardrails on minor’s social media use and limit social media companies from disrupting teens’ sleep by knowingly or intentionally keeping children on their phones.

Inside our schools:

  • We will expand eligibility for school-based mental health services to students across Virginia using a waiver and provide technical assistance and support to localities that provide matching funds and wish to utilize these services.
  • We will require school divisions who monitor student Internet use to disclose what activity is tracked and monitored, obtain parental consent, and notify parents when a safety alert is issued.
  • We will expand the behavioral health workforce in schools and other community settings.
  • We will increase access to care by providing funds for tele-behavioral health for children in grades 6-12, with their parents’ permission, as well as in our public colleges.

In behavioral health care settings:

  • We will ensure that Virginia families have the right to be in close physical proximity to a relative during a medical, mental health or substance use emergency and provide the relative with previously prescribed medications.
  • We will empower parents with the right to consent for their child to receive inpatient psychiatric care and choose where their child receives inpatient psychiatric care, and exclude minors from code-mandated state psychiatric treatment.

Year 2 Right Help, Right Now Budget Priorities

Governor Youngkin proposed $500 million in new funding for his biennium budget. This is a giant step forward when combined with the funding appropriated in the last budget—bringing the commitment to nearly $1.4 billion, including:

  • $307 million to provide 3,440 waiver slots, a slot per person on the Priority 1 Waitlist.
  • $23 million to expand access to school-based mental health services for children, including telehealth.
  • $46 million to meet the three-year target of emergency room alternatives, such as crisis receiving centers and crisis stabilization units, and publicly funded mobile crisis response teams to ensure that people have someone to respond and somewhere to go in a crisis.
  • $10 million for partnerships with hospitals to build specialized emergency rooms for psychiatric patients called comprehensive psychiatric emergency programs.
  • $23 million to ease law enforcement burden, including expanding alternative transportation.
  • $58 million for building a best-in-class behavioral health workforce through salary increases in state hospitals, behavioral health loan repayment, and more clinical training sites and residency slots.
  • $28 million in opioid abatement and response initiatives including a campaign to reduce youth fentanyl poisoning, wastewater monitoring, naloxone availability, and services for those with substance use disorder.

We will continue to transform our behavioral health system in a way that will positively affect generations to come. The Youngkin administration is committed to doing our part to make Virginia an even better place to live, work and raise a healthy family.

VDH Announces New Syphilis Webpage

Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announces the unveiling of a new syphilis webpage, including a data dashboard tracking the number of reported syphilis cases, to help bring attention to the rising number of cases in Virginia.

Reported total early syphilis (TES) cases in Virginia increased 14% from 2018 to 2022. To date in 2023, syphilis case reports are 21% higher than for the equivalent period in 2022. Most TES cases are diagnosed among men (84% in 2022); however, cases among women are on the rise (70% increase from 2018-2022). Syphilis diagnoses among persons who misuse substances (such as opioids, methamphetamine, and cocaine) are also increasing. Cases of congenital syphilis, which occurs when a mother with syphilis passes the infection on to her baby during pregnancy, have similarly increased dramatically in the last decade. National data show comparable trends.

The new syphilis webpage summarizes important information about syphilis infections, including common symptoms, risk factors, testing and treatment recommendations. Virginians can use this information to better protect themselves and their communities from syphilis. Additional resources specifically for healthcare providers are also available. Provider resources are designed to assist with identifying, staging, treating, reporting, and preventing syphilis.

For more information on sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing, visit the VDH testing page.  For testing or other health services, consult your local health department.  For specific questions about STDs or testing locations, you may call the Virginia Disease Prevention Hotline at (800) 533-4148.

The syphilis data dashboard includes up-to-date information on annual and monthly TES case counts by patient residence and demographics.  Cases are reported by the local health district of the patient’s residence at diagnosis with standard VDH data suppression rules in place to protect patient privacy. Data on congenital syphilis diagnoses are also presented by year and health region. The dashboard data will be updated weekly on Tuesdays.

The public may learn more about syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases at the VDH website for STDs.