News You Can Use from the Hays County Local Health Department – January 2017

Medical Director: Charles Anderson M.D. (May be reached through CD/TB Supervisor)
Clinic Director: Clint Garza
Clinic Manager: Margie Rodriguez 512-393-5535
Communicable Disease/TB Supervisor: Iris Barrera R.N. 512-393-5569
TB Program Assistant: Wilma Lewter NCMA 512-393-5529
Epidemiology/Communicable Disease: Eric Schneider 512-393-5525 / Sophia Anyatonwu MPH, CIC 512-393-5524

Texas Vaccine for Children Program (TVFC)

Health Care Providers, did you know you can get FREE vaccine for your qualifying patients? Those without insurance, on Medicaid, or in the CHIP program can receive their immunizations from you, through this State program. In addition, your staff receives personalized guidance from our TVFC coordinator, Amelia Flores, regarding immunization up-dates, vaccine storage, and rotating stock. She will visit your clinic and get you set up! If interested, please contact Amelia @
(512) 393-5539 or email her

ImmTrac

What a great idea! Everyone should be on it! It’s available for children and adults. It’s free and secure. It’s accessible from provider to provider.
For more information and assistance with setting up this valuable tracking system contact:
Josie Gonzales 512-393-5574  / Elsira S. De Leon 512-393-5575

Tuberculosis Elimination

HCLHD TB elimination program provides free follow-up for reactive TB tests in addition to free medication and case management for both TB Active Disease and Latent infections. We currently offer three different drug regimens for Latent Tuberculosis Infections: Isoniazid 9months, Rifampin 4 months, and our newest therapy 3HP; an observed dose given once a week for 12 weeks. Public safety is also ensured by our free and required case management of TB patients with Active Disease. The required work-up: positive TB test results and TB400 DSHS reporting form must be sent to HCLHD within one (1) working day for oversight and state reporting. Fax to 512-393-5530

TB400 Reporting form

http://www.dshs.texas.gov/idcu/disease/tb/forms/default.asp

A Comeback Story: Mumps!!!

Over the past two weeks, local health departments have reported over 70 new cases of mumps throughout Texas. While the majority of the outbreak has been seen in North Texas, individual cases have been reported here in Central Texas too.
Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. It typically starts with a few days of fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, and loss of appetite. This is followed by swollen salivary glands.

Mumps is no longer very common in the United States, but outbreaks do occur. The best way you can protect yourself and your loved ones is to ensure everyone in your family has received a mumps vaccination. We are asking area providers to screen for mumps whenever it can be suspected.

Zika Has Arrived

In early December, investigators identified 4 suspicious cases of Zika infections. All of these patients currently live in the Brownsville area. These patients did not travel to an area/country that has already been affected by Zika, so further investigation was conducted. Investigators trapped and tested mosquitos in the area and were able to catch some that tested positive for Zika. With this, Texas became only the second state to have locally acquired Zika infections.

Also in December, Hays County was notified of our first positive Zika patient. This patient traveled to Puerto Rico in August, where they contracted the virus. They are no longer contagious, and none of their close contacts or neighbors have reported any signs or symptoms of Zika.

Reportable Conditions Updates

http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/default.asp
Please fax reportable conditions to 512-393-5530 Attention “Office of Epidemiology”

Helpful Websites

http://www.sos.state.tx.us/tac/
(Texas Administrative Code)

http://www.co.hays.tx.us/about-us-.aspx
(Health Department Information)

http://www.dshs.texas.gov/idcu/investigation/conditions/
(Notifiable Conditions List 2016)

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Hays County Commissioners Court Approves 2017 Tax Ceiling for Age 65-plus and Disabled Residents

Hays County Courthouse, San Marcos, TX – Beginning in 2017, taxpayers in Hays County who are 65 years old or older, or who are disabled, will have the benefit of having their County-only taxes capped for their homestead.

The Commissioners Court’s action Tuesday applies only to taxes levied by Hays County government and does not include taxes levied by cities, school districts, emergency services and special districts, etc. In many cases, those taxes make up the bulk of each resident’s annual taxes.

“I think our County Commissioners Court and previous Courts truly understand and want to continue to do all we can to minimize the impact of taxes on all our citizens,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe said, pointing out that the recent tax rate approved by the Commissioners Court for 2017 is lower than 20 years ago.

The ceiling is permanent and cannot be revoked by future Commissioners Courts; however, if improvements such as adding a room or swimming pool are made to a homestead residence, the tax could increase.

“I agree with the concept of what we’re doing, but it gives me pause that we can’t revoke it. Our older population may grow due to our medical facilities,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Mark Jones, who voted against the measure “reluctantly,” citing concerns that young families may have to pick up more of a tax burden.

“You don’t have the flexibility of income you had when you were younger,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Ray Whisenant said. Those who receive the exemption would have some stability for their financial planning, he said.

If a person who qualifies for the exemption sells his or her homestead and purchases another in the county, he or she can receive a tax ceiling certificate for the new homestead. If the age 65 or older homeowner dies, the surviving spouse may continue to receive the local option exemption if the surviving spouse is age 55 or older at the time of death, lives in and owns the home and applies for the exemption, and does not remarry.

“This will benefit the most people and keep our senior citizens and disabled citizens from bearing the full burden of taxation,” County Judge Bert Cobb, M.D., said.

“It’s one of the only tools we have that we can use to put a permanent restriction on local government taxes,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley. He went on to state that “It seems like the right thing to do … we want to give retirees and disabled a sense of certainty and stabilization at that stage of their lives.”

A disabled person must meet the definition of disabled for the purpose of receiving disability insurance benefits under the Federal Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Act. A person who qualifies as both age 65 or older and disabled does not qualify for both, but must choose which exemption to claim.

Hays County Tax Assessor-Collector Luanne Caraway reminds persons that there is no need to pay any company to apply for your tax ceiling, it is easily taken care of free of charge by filling out a property tax exemption form which should be filed with the Hays Central Appraisal District, www.hayscad.com or 512-268-2522. The Texas Constitution, Article 8, Section 1-b(h) gives taxing entities the authority to offer the exemption.

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Hays County Sherriff’s Office “The Year in Review 2015”

On behalf of Sheriff Gary Cutler…

Dear Hays County,

You will find the Hays County Sheriff’s Office publication, “The Year in Review 2015” attached. This booklet is paid for exclusively by drug forfeiture funds awarded to the agency from criminal case investigations.

Please take a moment to review the accomplishments of your Sheriff’s Office for the past year. Please forward it to your neighbors, family and friends. You can also find it digitally on the Sheriff’s Office home page at: https://www.co.hays.tx.us/sheriff.aspx and Facebook. We look forward to hearing from you with your comments, suggestions, etc.