Zika is new challenge in 100 years of the Public Health Department

Zika is new challenge in 100 years of the Public Health Department
February 26
00:00 2016

By Tevin Stinson

The Chronicle

The Forsyth County Public Health Department is celebrating 100 years of service to the citizens of Winston-Salem and surrounding areas.

Since 1916 the department has been dedicated to preventing disease, promoting healthy lifestyles and prolonging life. Throughout the entire year the health department will sponsor a number of special events to showcase the many programs that the department offers.

Department director Marlon Hunter said although a lot has changed since 1916, public health is still a vital resource in the community. During a recent public safety press conference held at City Hall, Hunter mentioned public health has helped increase life expectancy by 30 years.

“Public health can receive credit for 25 of those years,” said Hunter. “With the increase in vaccines, books on motor vehicle safety, work place safety, and controlling infectious diseases, public health has played a major role in increasing life expectancy.”

Hunter noted that more recently the county has seen a decline in the infant mortality rate and said health officials will continue working to improve the lives of the people in Forsyth County. He said with new illnesses like the Zika virus, the department of health is more important than ever.

A mosquito-borne virus, Zika has been linked to a birth defect called microcephaly that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and potential developmental problems.

Late last week the N.C. Department of Health and Human services announced the first case of Zika virus infection in a N.C. resident. The case was confirmed in an adult person who has recently traveled to a country with ongoing Zika virus transmission. The patient’s symptoms have resolved.

A press release says, to protect patient confidentiality, no additional details on this patient will be provided. At this time, no cases of the disease are known to have been acquired in North Carolina or elsewhere in the continental United States, with the exception of one infection in Texas attributed to sexual transmission.

For more information on the Forsyth County Public Health Department or to find out about the  events they will be sponsoring, visit the departmen’ts official website at

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