County of Marin Health and Human Services

Public Health Newsletter - April 2024

Public Health Newsletter - April 2024
Marin County Public Health Newsletter - April 2024
In this Issue: Mental Health Month | Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza I National Volunteer Week | Flattening the Curve on Congenital Syphilis Infections | Winter Respiratory Virus Season Ends | Emergency Medical Services Leaders Honored | Message from the Public Health Officer 
A message to physicians and other health care providers from Marin County's Public Health Officers.

Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month.  At least one in four people in our Marin community faces a mental health or substance use challenge. Marin County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services and partners invite you to join events throughout May to prioritize mental health and combat stigma. Highlights include:

  • Pertussis Virus May 2: Marin Maternal Mental Health Community Forum with California Surgeon General, Dr. Diana Ramos. RSVP to
  • May 9: Drew Robinson, former SF Giant and Mental Health Advocate:  A survivor’s story about mental health, hope and recovery. Register
  • May 18: "One Stride at a Time: 5K for Hope, Help, and Recovery." Register 
  • May 21: "Honoring Stories, Transforming Minds" with Living Arts Playback Theater. Register to share and heal through theater.

More events can be found here.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

The spread of H5N1 Avian Influenza  into mammals, including humans, has gained significant media attention recently. Clinicians may be called upon to explain risk for their patients. Dr. Willis offered a video update on this emerging threat for the Marin public on April 26. No cases among humans or livestock have been reported in California or Marin. Avoiding contact with dead birds and not consuming raw milk are two simple steps to protect against infection. Marin Public Health will continue to provide any relevant updates.

National Volunteer Week and the Medical Reserve Corps

Last week was National Volunteer Week. The Marin Medical Reserve Corps (MMRC) is a volunteer based organization dedicated to protecting the health of residents, especially during large scale emergencies. The MMRC has played a pivotal role in several recent responses, including the pandemic, wildfires, and the opioid crisis. Learn more and sign up to join the MMRC here.
Flattening the Curve on Congenital Syphilis Infections

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are on the rise nationally and in Marin. Congenital syphilis rates have increased eight-fold in the past decade nationally. In response, last week the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued new recommendation for syphilis screening in pregnancy. Universal screening in now recommended in the first prenatal visit and again in the third trimester. To help address a national shortage of bicillin, the FDA has approved extencilline to treat syphilis. The California Prevention Training Center has free trainings in STI diagnosis and management for clinicians.

Winter Respiratory Virus Season Ends

Local clinical and wastewater data are demonstrating that the local winter virus season is behind us. RSV and influenza levels have returned to “off season” levels. COVID-19 is less seasonal as surges in cases align with the emergence of new variants, more than seasons per se. COVID transmission risk should be assumed to be present year-round. The local public health mandate requiring mask use in hospitals and nursing homes during peak respiratory virus season ended March 31.

Emergency Medical Services Leaders Honored

Marin County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responds to about 25 thousand 911 calls for medical emergencies every year. The EMS system is administered under Public Health and operated by fire agency EMT’s and paramedics across Marin. The heads of both our EMS and fire agencies have recently been honored statewide. Marin County Fire Chief Jason Weber was named California Fire Chief of the Year, and Marin County EMS Director Chris Le Baudour was named California EMS Educator of the Year. Under their joint leadership, Marin County ambulance response times and 911 call patient outcomes consistently out-perform state and national averages.

Message from the Public Health Officer

Dr. Matt Willis, Public Health OfficerPublic Health is back in the headlines lately with concerns about the spread of Avian flu H5N1 to humans.  It remains important to place this threat in context, while not minimizing risk. There is no immediate danger to our community. At the same time, this emerging virus demonstrates the importance of maintaining infrastructure for responding to pandemic threats, and of maintaining strong ongoing communication between healthcare and public health.

Thank you for providing excellent care for our community.


Matthew Willis, MD, MPH
Public Heath Officer

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Marin County Public Health, a division of the Marin County Health & Human Services Department

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