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Comparing symptoms of Allergies,  Cold, Strep Throat, Flu, and COVID-19


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Of course, when facing a major storm or hurricane, your first priorities are to assure the safety of your family.  Included in those priorities are concerns about safe drinking water and proper sewage disposal.  Below are some concerns about private wells and onsite sewage systems when Virginia faces major storms or flooding followed by links to other sources of information.  If you have specific questions before or after the storm, call your local health department.  While the emergency is in progress, Virginia Department of Health personnel will be working in Emergency Operation Centers at state and local levels.

Power outages

Power outages can cause problems for homeowners with wells and/or certain onsite sewage systems.  If your home is served by a well, the well pump will not work when the power goes out.  Keep sufficient potable water on hand for drinking and cooking.  Toilets can be flushed by pouring a bucketful of water either into the tank and using the handle, or by pouring a bucketful into the bowl.  Many well pumps operate on a 240 volt circuit, so if you plan to use a generator to run your well pump during a power outage, have the connections established by a licensed electrician.  Remember – water and electricity are very dangerous together!

Some onsite sewage systems may also fail to operate properly during a power outage.  The pump won’t work without power in systems with pumps, but most onsite sewage systems with a pump should have 100-200 gallons storage capacity above the high level alarm.  Exceeding this storage capacity could cause the pump chamber to overflow, spilling raw sewage on the ground.  Use water sparingly.

Many alternative systems also have electrical components such as aerators, flow control switches and other equipment.  Many alternative systems also include a pump and therefore should have a limited amount of storage capacity as noted above.  Alternative system owners should call their licensed Alternative Onsite Sewage System Operator as soon as possible once the power returns if some components do not seem to be functioning properly.


People who rely on private wells for their water should consider their well contaminated if it was submerged or they believe it is possible the well became submerged during the hurricane.

If the well was flooded and underwater, do not turn on the pump until you are sure the electrical system is completely dried out.  See the EPA link below – What to do After the Flood.  Consider a well that has been submerged  contaminated and disinfect the well and the water system using this procedure once you are sure the electrical system is safe:  The water should not be consumed until bacteriological testing indicates the well is not contaminated. Two satisfactory bacteriological tests performed on samples taken at least 24 hours apart will indicate your water supply has been properly disinfected.  Labs certified to test drinking water are available at this website:

If you are unsure if the well was flooded, assume that it was and use another water source until the the water supply is disinfected.

A satisfactory water test following disinfection indicates that the water supply has been disinfected initially.  The second water test, taken at least 24 hours later, indicates that there is no ongoing contamination of the water supply.  Be sure to follow the instructions from the lab carefully when collecting your water samples.  Exposing the water or container to a source of bacteriological contamination (fingers, breath, etc.) could give a false positive result.

Onsite Sewage Systems

For any type of onsite sewage system, conventional or alternative, a hurricane or flood could submerge the system, causing a backup of sewage into the house.  Look for sewage backups in the plumbing fixtures at the lowest elevations in your house. The wax seal between the toilet and the floor and the first floor or basement bathtub.  Wear gloves and other protective gear when cleaning up sewage.
Flooding can wash soil away from the septic tank, drainfield lines or other components, causing damage to the components or introducing raw or partially treated sewage into the yard.  Flooding may also just cause the onsite sewage system to operate sluggishly because the soil in the dispersal area is saturated, preventing effluent from the tank from seeping into the ground.  Hurricane Isabel in September 2003, left Virginia with acres of fallen trees from high winds combined with saturated soil.  Some homeowners found that the roots of falling trees pulled up some shallow drainfield lines and damaged some other components such as septic tanks and distribution boxes.

If your septic tank/drainfield system is damaged by the storm or if the soil is saturated, minimize water use within the house to prevent raw sewage from discharging to the ground surface.  Minimize contact with sewage contaminated waters.  Use gloves and protective gear and wash any exposed skin with soap and water as soon as possible.  Disinfect any exposed human contact surfaces with diluted bleach water.

Following the storm, saturated soils should begin to drain and restore function to many sluggish systems.  If your system has been damaged or remains sluggish, you will need to complete an application to repair your damaged system with the local health department or contact your Alternative Onsite Sewage System Operator to inspect your alternative system.

Here are some links you may find helpful:

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

The Virginia Department of Health has established an information hotline for questions about Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Please review the information provided on the VDH Coronavirus Website first, then if you still have questions, you may call (877) ASK-VDH3 (877-275-8343) to speak with a public information representative.

COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe disease. Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

People who are at higher risk for severe illness

Based upon available information to date, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Other high-risk conditions could include:
    • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    • People who have serious heart conditions
    • People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment
    • People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] >40) or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease might also be at risk
  • People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness, however, to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk

Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications


Notice:  Manassas Park residents who are quarantined and those who test positive may contact Randi Knights, Social Services Director, who will coordinate to secure food for them.    Desk  703-335-8888  Cell 571 428 3567



Virginia Agencies Investigating Reports of Illness among Men Who Took Dietary Supplement V8

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) is advising consumers not to purchase or use a product sold under the name V8, which is a supplement promoted for male sexual enhancement. As of Aug. 21, 2019, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) had received three reports in the metro Richmond area of patients experiencing severe hypoglycemia (very low blood sugar) after taking V8 pills. The patients required emergency care.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia include irritability, anxiety, shakiness, hunger, profuse sweating and/or a racing heartbeat. Anyone experiencing severe hypoglycemia should seek immediate medical attention. Individuals and healthcare professionals should contact one of Virginia’s three Poison Control Centers at 800.222.1222 about adverse events and side effects to products.

Preliminary laboratory analysis has identified several compounds within the pills that could result in severe hypoglycemia. Testing is ongoing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported an emerging trend of over-the-counter products containing hidden active ingredients that are harmful.

VDH, VDACS, the VCU Poison Center and the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services are collaborating on this investigation. VDACS Food Safety Specialists are actively seeking this product at convenience stores and other retail locations and will remove and destroy any product located.


The Virginia Department of Health is Helping to Protect the People in Virginia from Hepatitis A

In Virginia, local health departments, in conjunction with community partners, are working to prevent hepatitis A from spreading throughout the Commonwealth. In January of this year, a statewide hepatitis A vaccination campaign began which focuses on increasing the number of Virginians properly immunized for hepatitis A.

What is hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease caused by a virus. The virus is found in the feces (poop) of people with hep A.

Who should get vaccinated?

Vaccination is available to anyone, but is specifically recommended for all children, for travelers to certain countries, and for people at high risk for infection with the virus. Although the campaign’s focus is on those who are at higher risk for hepatitis A infection, any Virginian who desires hepatitis A vaccine should receive vaccination.

Who is at high risk?

People who use injection or non-injection drugs, people who are currently homeless or in temporary housing, people who were recently in jail or prison, men who have sex with men (MSM), and people with liver disease.

How do I prevent the spread of hepatitis A?

Wash hands carefully with soap and warm water after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and before eating and preparing food. Get vaccinated if you are at high risk of getting hep A!

Where can people go for more information?

For more information about hepatitis A visit: . For an appointment to get vaccinated please call Prince William Health District at 703-792-6300 in Manassas and 703-792-7300 in Woodbridge.


Know the RxSK

Every day 174 Americans die from a drug overdose. Every 12 hours someone in Virginia dies of an opioid overdose. 

Joining forces to tackle the opioid crisis in Northern Virginia, the region’s five community services boards (CSBs) have launched a new website Know the RxSK. Check out the website to learn more about the problem, opioid safety, and community resources.

The Ten Warning Flags of an Untrustworthy Rehab Facility

Vectorborne Disease Cases

CDC recently released a report examining the trends of reported vectorborne disease cases in the U.S. from 2004 to 2016. The report discusses the challenges of prevention and control, as well as opportunities for vectorborne disease preparedness at the state and local level. Please click here for the full CDC article.
Bites from vectors such as ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas can pass a number of infections to humans and are a threat to our health. This includes Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, West Nile, dengue, Zika, and more. The number of annual reports for vectorborne diseases tripled from 2004 to 2016. During that time, there were more than 640,000 cases.

What can you do to prevent this? 

When you are outside, there are steps you can take to prevent the bites of ticks and mosquitoes:
o    Avoid tick-infested areas, such as tall grass and dense vegetation
o   Dump standing water around your home
o   Use insect repellant
o   Wear long sleeves and pants
o   Conduct full-body checks to look for ticks and remove them promptly
o   Don’t forget about your pets – use tick treatments and check them for ticks

Prince William Health District is a Proud Member of the Child Protection

Partnership of the Prince William Area

Prince William organizations raise awareness about child abuse

REVIVE! is the Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education (OONE) program for the Commonwealth of Virginia. REVIVE! provides training to professionals, stakeholders, and others on how to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose emergency with the administration of naloxone (Narcan ®).  REVIVE! is a collaborative effort led by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) working alongside the Virginia Department of Health, the Virginia Department of Health Professions, recovery community organizations such as the McShin Foundation, OneCare of Southwest Virginia, the Substance Abuse and Addiction Recovery Alliance of Virginia (SAARA), and other stakeholders.


People who own dogs and walk them often are less likely to be obese than non-pet owners.  Additionally, research shows that just being around animals reduces stress. It is estimated that pet ownerships saves the U.S. $11.8 billion dollar in health care costs.


Be Healthy Be Happy Prince William is a web-based resource of community health data.  We invite partners, stakeholders, and the entire community to use this site as a tool for community assessments, strategic planning, developing best practices for improvement, collaboration and advocacy. Please visit for more information.

Tick-borne Disease Prevention

  • Protect your ankles.  Wear long pants tucked into high socks when doing yard work.  Wrap duct tape (sticky side out) around where the pants and socks meet so that crawling ticks get stuck on the tape.
  • Dress properly.  Use clothing, tents and other gear treated with repellent, such as permethrin.  This repellent kills ticks, mosquitoes, chiggers and mites.  These products are available online or at sporting goods stores.
  • Wear repellent.  Apply topical insect repellent that contains less than 40 percent DEET.  Children should use repellent that contains no more than 30 percent DEET.
  • Conduct tick checks.  Tick bites are painless, so if you are in an area with ticks, perform a thorough tick check and remove ticks immediately.
  • Don’t forget pets.  The neurotransmitter blockers in anti-tick treatments and flea collars are very effective in keeping ticks from biting pets.  When pets come indoors, check for crawling ticks to prevent them from getting off your pet and on to you.
  • Create a tick-free zone.  You can make your yard less attractive to rodent, deer and other tick-carriers.  Keeping lawns trimmed and creating barriers between your yard and the woods with wood chips, mulch or gravel can eliminate tall grasses where ticks crawl.  Remove wood piles and stones where mice, chipmunks and squirrels may hide.  These little critters keep tick larva and nymphs circulating in nature.
  • Hike carefully.  Stay in the center of hiking trails to avoid contact with vegetation.

Food Safety in Virginia

Food Safety in Virginia

Keeping and Disposing of Drugs Safely:
Prescription Drug Take-Back Program

Tip card with directions for the proper disposal of prescription drugs 
Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse Tip Card

Virginia’s statewide Drug Take-Back Day is an effort to prevent prescription drug abuse and to keep trace drugs out of our lakes and streams.  In communities all across the commonwealth, it is a day where citizens can drop off their unused, unwanted, or expired medications at their local law enforcement agencies for safe disposal.

The Office of the Attorney General, the Secretary of Public Safety, the Virginia State Police, and local law enforcement agencies are working together to participate in this nationwide U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Take-Back Day.

Drug Take-Back Day is a day where citizens can drop off their unused, unwanted, or expired medications at their local law enforcement agencies for safe disposal.

Drug Take-Back Day is an effort to prevent prescription drug abuse and to keep trace drugs out of our lakes and streams (wastewater treatment plants cannot remove many compounds found in medications; so when flushed or put in a landfill, drugs are discharged into our surface and ground water and consumed by fish and wildlife).

  • It’s anonymous and free
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications will be accepted
  • Please, no intravenous solutions, injectables, or needles

Why are drug take-back programs important?

Take-back programs are the safest method for disposing of prescription drugs because they are organized and closely monitored by local, state, and federal government agencies. These agencies ensure the proper disposal of the drugs in accordance with federal law.

The dangers of not properly disposing of prescription drugs

A growing concern across the commonwealth is prescription medications being taken from medicine cabinets or the trash by those who abuse drugs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2006, nearly seven million Americans over the age of 12 reported abusing prescription medications. In fact, approximately 60 percent of people who abuse prescription painkillers indicate that they obtained the prescription drugs from friends or relatives for free, often taking the drugs without permission.

Children or pets may ingest undisposed or improperly disposed medications. This can lead to overdose, injury, and even death.

Many people believe that flushing or simply throwing away drugs is the best way to dispose of medications, however, if not disposed of properly, the drugs can contaminate the ground and waterways. Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove or process many compounds found in medications. Instead, when flushed or put in a landfill, the drugs are discharged into our surface and ground water.

Pharmaceutical contaminants in water have been shown to cause serious harm to fish and wildlife living in and near rivers and lakes. Humans can also be exposed to these chemicals when they drink water drawn from contaminated bodies of water or eat wild game or fish. The long-term human health risks from exposure to even very small amounts of these chemicals is not yet known.

Home disposal:  What to do on other days of the year when there is no take-back program available

If a take-back program is not available, home disposal, when completed correctly per the instructions below, is another option to dispose of prescription drugs:

  • Step 1- Remove medications from their original containers. If the medication is solid, crush it or add water to dissolve it and then mix the medication with an undesirable substance, such as kitty litter or coffee grounds. This makes the mixture unattractive to children and pets and unrecognizable to potential abusers who may go through your trash.
  • Step 2- Place the mixture in a container with a lid or in a sealable baggie to prevent the medication from leaking, and throw it into the trash.
  • Step 3- When discarding the original containers, scratch out or remove identifiers on the bottle and/or packaging.


  • DO NOT dispose of medications in the toilet or sink, unless specifically instructed to on the label.
  • DO NOT give medicine to friends or family. This is not only potentially illegal, but a drug that works for you could be dangerous for someone else.
  • When in doubt, consult your pharmacist.

Manual for localities:  “Hosting a Successful Prescription Drug Take-Back Event”

In 2010, the Office of the Attorney General created a task force to create a model practice aimed at helping localities hold successful drug take-back events on their own.

Learn about Hosting a Successful Prescription Drug Take-Back Event.

Safe Disposal Sites for Unused Medication

Tips for Eating Healthy When Eating out

  • As a beverage choice, ask for water or order fat-free or low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, or other drinks without added sugars.
  • Ask for whole-wheat bread for sandwiches.
  • In a restaurant, start your meal with a salad packed with veggies, to help control hunger and feel satisfied sooner.
  • Ask for salad dressing to be served on the side. Then use only as much as you want.
  • Choose main dishes that include vegetables, such as stir fries, kebobs, or pasta with a tomato sauce.
  • Order steamed, grilled, or broiled dishes instead of those that are fried or sautéed.
  • Choose a small” or “medium” portion. This includes main dishes, side dishes, and beverages.
  • Order an item from the menu instead heading for the “all-you-can-eat” buffet.
  • If main portions at a restaurant are larger than you want, try one of these strategies to keep from overeating:
    • Order an appetizer-sized portion or a side dish instead of an entrée.
    • Share a main dish with a friend.
    • If you can chill the extra food right away, take leftovers home in a “doggy bag.”
    • When your food is delivered, set aside or pack half of it to go immediately.
    • Resign from the “clean your plate club” – when you’ve eaten enough, leave the rest.
  • To keep your meal moderate in calories, fat, and sugars:
    • Ask for salad dressing to be served “on the side” so you can add only as much as you want.
    • Order foods that do not have creamy sauces or gravies
    • Add little or no butter to your food.
    • Choose fruits for dessert most often.
  • On long commutes or shopping trips, pack some fresh fruit, cut-up vegetables, low-fat string cheese sticks, or a handful of unsalted nuts to help you avoid stopping for sweet or fatty snacks.

Protect You and Your Family from Food borne Illness

Federal health officials estimate that nearly 48 million people are sickened by food contaminated with harmful germs each year. Many people don’t realize that produce can also be the culprit in outbreaks of food borne illness.

FDA says to choose produce that isn’t bruised or damaged, and make sure that pre-cut items—such as bags of lettuce or watermelon slices—are either refrigerated or on ice both in the store and at home.

In addition, follow these recommendations:

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating.
  • Gently rub produce while holding under plain running water. There’s no need to use soap or a produce wash.
  • Wash produce BEFORE you peel it, so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable.
  • Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers.
  • Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.
  • Throw away the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage.
  • Store perishable produce in the refrigerator at 40 degrees or below.

Fitness for less: Low-cost ways to shape up

Want to work out but think you can’t afford it? Think again. Consider these low-cost alternatives to a pricey gym membership.
By Mayo Clinic staff

If the only thing keeping you from starting a fitness program is the cost of a gym membership, here’s good news. You don’t need to join a gym to take physical activity seriously. Plenty of low-cost alternatives can help you get fit without breaking your budget. These tips can help you get started.
Take advantage of everyday opportunities

You don’t need a gym or special equipment for an aerobic workout. With a little foresight, activities you may take for granted can become part of your fitness routine.

Step it up. Take a brisk walk every day, whether it’s in your neighborhood or a local mall. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or make a full workout of climbing the stairs. Sneak in extra steps whenever you can by parking farther away from your destination.

Make housework a workout. Mow the lawn, weed the garden, rake the leaves or shovel the snow. Even indoor activities such as vacuuming and scrubbing count as a workout if you increase your heart rate.

Play with your kids. If you have children, don’t just watch them play. Join them for a game of tag or kickball. Walk them to the park. Dance. Take a family bike ride. Go to a community pool. Even if you don’t swim, you can enjoy time in the water or walk in the shallow end. Do your kids play video games? If so, plug in with them and swing a virtual tennis racket or do a little boxing.

Improvise with household items

If you’d rather not spend a penny on exercise equipment, use ordinary household items for various upper and lower body exercises:
Canned goods. Many canned goods can serve double duty as hand weights.

Chair or step stool. Use a chair for support when doing exercises such as leg curls. A low, sturdy step stool can become exercise equipment if you use it for step training — an aerobic exercise resembling stair climbing.

Consider a modest investment
If you’re able to spend a little, you can find inexpensive products to add variety to your fitness routine:

Dumbbells. Use these small, hand-held weights to strengthen your upper body. They’re available in many sizes.

Exercise DVDs and apps. Create the feel of a health club aerobics class in your own living room — or choose a program that’ll help you improve your strength and flexibility.

Fitness ball. A fitness ball looks like a large beach ball. You can do many core exercises, including abdominal crunches, with a fitness ball. You can also use a fitness ball to improve your flexibility and balance.

Jump-ropes. Skipping rope can be a great cardiovascular workout.

Resistance tubing. These stretchy tubes offer weight-like resistance when you pull on them. Use the tubes to build strength in your arms and other muscles. Choose from varying degrees of resistance, depending on your fitness level.

Be a savvy shopper
If you’re interested in a specific exercise class or piece of equipment, shop around to find the best deal.

Check out your local recreation department. Many recreation departments offer discounted fitness classes to local residents. If you live near a high school or college with a fitness center, ask if the facility is available to community members.

Buy used equipment. Some sporting goods stores specialize in used equipment — or you can check out listings for exercise equipment in the local newspaper. You may also find great deals on used exercise equipment online. Just make sure the cost of shipping won’t put the item out of your budget.

Share costs with a friend. Trade exercise videos or DVDs with a friend so that neither of you gets bored doing the same workout over and over again. Find a personal trainer who’ll let you share the cost of a session with a friend or two.

Remember, getting in shape doesn’t need to be expensive. Don’t get caught up in memberships or purchases you can’t afford. Instead, concentrate on your fitness goals — and how to achieve them without breaking your budget.

“Above all do not lose your desire to walk. Everyday I walk myself into a state of well being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill … if one keeps on walking everything will be alright.”
– Soren Kierkegaard
Get up, get out and go for a walk!

Infectious diseases remain one of the greatest threats to public health in the United States and across the world. Despite key advances in medicine and science, infectious diseases still rank among the greatest causes for illness, disability, and death. The burden of infectious diseases is both a national and global challenge to population health.

A quote from the committee that developed the Healthy People 2020 measures. This demonstrates how important Prince William Health District’s communicable disease and immunization program is to protect the health of the community.