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Zika Virus


Dr. Cherie Drenzek


Dr. Patrick O’Neal

Zika Virus

The Zika virus has been making news over the past year as we approach the coming Olympics in Brazil, a known location heavily populated by the species of mosquito known to carry the virus.  I sat down with Dr. Patrick O’Neal of the Georgia’s Department of Public Health, and Dr. Cherie Drenzek, Epidemiologist for the State of Georgia to talk about what we need to be thinking about here in Georgia.

Dr. Cherie Drenzek grew up in Detroit and received her bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and her Master’s degree in Food Microbiology from Wayne State University. She attended Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine and received her DVM in 1995. She then entered the Epidemic Intelligence Service program at CDC and was stationed in the Rabies Section. Following EIS, Dr. Drenzek was employed as an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Drenzek has been employed at the Georgia Department of Public Health since 1999 and has served in a variety of roles, including infectious disease medical epidemiologist and State Public Health Veterinarian. She served as Director of the Acute Disease Epidemiology Section and Deputy State Epidemiologist since October 2005 and was named State Epidemiologist and Director of the Epidemiology Program in 2011.

Dr. Patrick O’Neal is the Director of Health Protection for the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), where he has oversight responsibility for Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Trauma, Emergency Preparedness, Epidemiology, Infectious Disease, Immunizations, and Environmental Health. For 29 years prior, he practiced
emergency medicine at DeKalb Medical Center in Decatur. He received his medical education at the Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans.

Zika virus (pronunciation: zee-kah) is a viral disease that is primarily transmitted to people by infected Aedes species mosquitoes. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

However, there can be more severe clinical outcomes, and Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects.  Prior to 2015, outbreaks have occurred in Africa, Southeast Asia, and islands in the Pacific Ocean.  In May 2015, Zika virus transmission was confirmed in Brazil and outbreaks are currently occurring in many countries in the Americas and worldwide.

No local mosquito-borne Zika virus disease cases have been reported in the continental U.S., but there have been travel-associated cases, as well as cases associated with sexual transmission from travelers to affected areas. These imported cases could result in local spread of the virus in areas of the United States where the Aedes mosquito vectors are found. A list of countries where Zika virus is currently being spread can be found at the CDC website Zika is an unprecedented public health emergency that poses significant risks to pregnant women.

This is the first time in more than 50 years that a virus has been linked to serious birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes (and the first-ever mosquito-borne cause!).  Georgia has not documented any local transmission of Zika virus, but as of the end of April 2016, has confirmed more than a dozen travel-associated Zika infections.

For general information about Zika virus and surveillance for mosquito‐borne diseases in Georgia, call your District or County Health Department or the Georgia Department of Public Health at 404‐657‐2588. You may also visit the Georgia Department of Public Health website at Also go to the CDC website at

Special Guests:

Dr. Cherie Drenzek, Epidemiologist, Georgia Department of Public Health

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Dr. Patrick O’Neal, MD, Director of Health Protection, Georgia Department of Public Health


Dr. Mark Beaty and Dr. Manny Rodriguez

plastic surgery

Dr. Mark Beaty

infectious disease

Dr. Manny Rodriguez

Dr. Mark Beaty and Dr. Manny Rodriguez

I was joined in studio by facial plastic surgeon, Dr. Mark Beaty, and I spoke with infectious disease physician, Dr. Manny Rodriguez about the Zika virus.

Dr. Mark Beaty specializes in elective aesthetic facial procedures to improve or reconstruct facial blemishes and flaws.  Today we know there is more than simple vanity as reasons to consider improving the look of one’s face, particularly when you are a business professional.

Dr. Beaty shared information about recent studies that looked at individuals who underwent aesthetic procedures to address issues such as symmetry with regard to their earning over time.  The study showed that business professionals in sales/leadership positions earned significantly more over time than counterparts who did not correct such issues.

We talked about some of the various ways Dr. Beaty is able to improve facial beauty, including some of the basic surgical procedures he performs, such as lifts and tucks, reconstruction of the nose, etc.  He draws upon years of experience and refinement of his technique to offer what he calls, ProLIFT, allowing optimal aesthetic result with less recovery time.

He also discussed a number of innovative non-surgical procedures he is able to offer that hasten return to work with short recovery, minimal bruising or external thermal wounds.  His CoolSculpting program creates the best value for non-surgical fat reduction through the use of a special device that is able to kill adipose cells, while protecting other tissues in the trouble spot.

He also explained the new Profound skin tightening procedure for non-surgical improvement of loose, saggy skin.  Dr. Beaty is pleased to now have an office located in Midtown Atlanta to increase convenience for his in-town patients.

We’ve heard much about the Zika virus in the news lately, as several persons in the US have been found to be carrying the disease upon returning to the US (typically from Brazil).  The virus has caused alarm due to the fact that it has recently been attributed as the cause for microcephaly in infants delivered to mothers who were infected during pregnancy.

Infectious disease physician, Dr. Manny Rodriguez took time to sit down and share some information about the virus for our listeners.  In many ways, the zika viral infection is relatively benign, according to Dr. Rodriguez, with only a small number of persons exhibiting symptoms that alert them to the fact that they were exposed to the virus.

We talked about the symptoms that are most commonly seen when symptoms manifest, how the infection is diagnosed, what to expect should one become infected, along with some useful information on how to avoid the infection to begin with.

As we approach the Olympic games that will be held in Brazil, I’m sure we will continue to focus on this issue.  I’m pleased to share some information straight from the expert for our listeners!

Special Guests:

Dr. Mark Beaty of Beaty Facial Plastic Surgery  

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plastic surgery

  • Doctorate in Medicine, University of Kentucky College of Medicine
  • Residency, University of Iowa Department of Otolaryngology
  • Fellowship, Facial Plastic Surgery, Emory-Affiliated  Buckhead Facial Plastic Surgery
  • Board Certified in Facial Plastic Surgery and Otolaryngology
  • Recipient, Sir Harold Delf Gilles award for research evaluating effects of rhinoplasty techniques on nasal architecture

Dr. Manny Rodriguez, DO, Infectious Disease Services of Georgia  

zika virus

  • Doctor of Osteopathy, Nova Southeastern University
  • Master of Public Health, Nova Southeastern University
  • Residency, University of South Alabama
  • Fellowship in Infectious Diseases, The George Washington University
  • Board Certified in Infectious Disease and Internal Medicine


Clostridium Difficile

Clostridium Difficile

Dr. David Dickensheets, CW Hall talk Clostridium Difficile

Clostridium Difficile

On this week’s episode we talked about one of the leading causes of hospital-acquired infections: Clostridium Difficile, or “C. Diff.”  I sat down with Dr. David Dickensheets, infectious disease specialist with Infectious Disease Services of Georgia in his Cumming, GA office.

According to the CDC nearly half a million persons experienced a Clostridium difficile infection last year.  Their website explains:

Approximately 29,000 patients died within 30 days of the initial diagnosis of C. difficile.  Of those, about 15,000 deaths were estimated to be directly attributable to C. difficileinfections, making C. difficile a very important cause of infectious disease death in the United States.  More than 80 percent of the deaths associated with C. difficile occurred among Americans aged 65 years or older. C. difficile causes an inflammation of the colon and deadly diarrhea.

Previous studies indicate that C. difficile has become the most common microbial cause of healthcare-associated infections in U.S. hospitals and costs up to $4.8 billion each year in excess health care costs for acute care facilities alone.  The new study found that 1 out of every 5 patients with a healthcare-associated C. difficile infection experienced a recurrence of the infection and 1 out of every 9 patients aged 65 or older with a healthcare-associated C. difficile infection died within 30 days of diagnosis.”

Clearly it’s a big problem.  Dr. Dickensheets shared some great information on how the infection is diagnosed and why it’s so hard to eradicate from a hospital environment.  He also talked about an interesting treatment approach–the fecal transplant.

That’s right, in some instances, patients have been able to resolve the infection by having fecal material from a healthy human instilled into their bowel, allowing a repopulation of normal flora bacteria that compete with the C. Diff., helping to eliminate the infection.

Special Guest:

Dr. David Dickensheets, MD, of Infectious Disease Services of Georgia

Clostridium Difficile

  • Doctor of Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University
  • Residency, Roger Williams Medical Center
  • Fellowshp, Brown University
  • Board Certified in Infectious Disease