Media Release

Department of Health Celebrates 125 Years of Florida Public Health

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 4:00 PM
Alachua County Health Department

This press release put out at the request of the Alachua County Health Department.

ALACHUA COUNTY, FL – The Florida Department of Health in Alachua County is celebrating 125 years of public health during 2014 with educational and commemorative events.  The State Legislature created the State Board of Health on February 20, 1889, in response to a yellow fever epidemic in Jacksonville, and Dr. Joseph Yates Porter from Key West became Florida’s first State Public Health Officer.  Yellow fever in Florida was eradicated in 1905. 

“Florida’s dramatic growth was made possible through public health efforts that controlled disease and improved environmental health,” said Dr. John Armstrong, State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health. “Just as Dr. Porter and colleagues saved Floridians from yellow fever over a century ago, we are committed to solving the top public health threat to Florida families now: weight challenge.”

The year-long celebration of 125 years of Florida Public Health was launched in Key West on February 3, where Dr. Armstrong joined Dr. Porter’s great-great granddaughter in a ceremonial wreath laying at Dr. Porter’s grave site. Throughout 2014, the Department will offer educational and health information opportunities. A resource featuring “Public Health Heroes” from all 67 counties will be released later this spring.  During the week of April 7-11, the Department will further highlight the 125th Anniversary as part of National Public Health Week. In September 2014, the Department will unveil a full historical exhibit of Florida Public Health heritage at Florida’s Historic Capitol Museum in Tallahassee.

The Alachua County Health Department will release its 2013 Annual Report on February 20, 2014, summarizing the Department’s efforts and accomplishments. 

The report will be available online at the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County website.

Additionally, an educational display will be set up in the Health Department’s main lobby (224 SE 24th Street, Gainesville).

The Department invites Florida’s residents and visitors to join in recognizing 125 years of protecting, promoting and improving the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

Visit the 125 Years of Florida Public Health website for more information about the anniversary.

For more information about the Florida Department of Health, visit their website.

For more information, contact Bobby Davis, Florida Department of Health in Alachua County at 352-334-8873.


  • Mark Sexton
  • Communications & Legislative Affairs Director
  • Phone: 352-374-5204
  • Cell: 352-283-2317

If you have a disability and need an accommodation in order to participate in a County program, service or public meeting, please contact the Alachua County Equal Opportunity Office at 352-374-5275 at least 2 business days prior to the event. TTY users please call 711 (Florida Relay Service).