Texas Governor Prepares Infectious Disease Task Force Amid Zika Virus Arrival

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has taken action and appointed an infectious disease task force to prepare for the Zika virus in the Lone Star state. On Thursday, the Texas Governor appointed 31 members to the Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response. Dr. John Hellerstedt will serve as director.

In a press release obtained by Breitbart Texas, Abbott said the Task Force was created “to provide expert, evidence-based assessments, protocols, and recommendations related to state responses to infectious diseases, and to serve as a reliable and transparent source of information and education for Texas leadership and citizens.”

As reported by Breitbart Texas on Thursday, the Zika virus has hit the Mexican border city of Reynosa. According to state health officials, the victim was identified as a man who had recently traveled to Colombia which is one of the countries that has seen an outbreak of the disease. The appearance of the Zika virus in Mexico has kept Mexican health officials on alert after the country has seen more than 34 cases in recent weeks.

An expert in pediatric infectious diseases told reporters in Dallas that people in Texas who are infected with the Zika virus could infect mosquitoes and start a new “transmission cycle” in Texas, as reported by Breitbart Texas. Dr. Jeffrey Kahn is the chief of pediatric infectious diseases for the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. He also serves a director of infectious diseases at Children’s Medical Center.

In an interview with NBCDFW in Dallas on Tuesday, Dr. Kahn said, “As we head towards springtime, if we have a lot of people infected with Zika, either because they are imported cases or sexually acquired cases, that may trigger the mosquitoes to get infected with the virus and start that transmission cycle. And, once that occurs, it’s almost impossible to get the virus out of the population.”

The following individuals have been appointed to serve on this task force:

  • James Bass is Executive Director of the Texas Department of Transportation.
  •  Carlos Cascos is the Texas Secretary of State.
  •  Ed Emmett is the Harris County Judge.
  • Brett Giroir, M.D. is a senior fellow at the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute.
  • Janet Glowicz, R.N. is a public health analyst for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • John Hellerstedt, M.D. is Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.
  • Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D. is Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
  • Richard Hyde is Executive Director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
  • Tim Irvine is Executive Director of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.
  • Nim Kidd is Chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
  • Thomas Ksiazek, D.V.M., Ph.D. is Director of High Contaminate Operations and Director of the Biosafety Level 4 Laboratory, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston.           
  • David Lakey, M.D. is Associate Vice Chancellor for Population Health at the University of Texas System.
  • Binh-Minh “Jade” Le, M.D. is an associate professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
  • James Le Duc, Ph.D. is Director of the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch
  • Scott Lillibridge, M.D. is Director of Health Initiatives at the Texas A&M University System and professor of Epidemiology at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health.
  • Tony Marquardt is a paramedic with the City of Austin / Travis County Emergency Medical Service.
  • Muriel Marshall, D.O., DrPH is the Collin County Health Authority.
  • Steve McCraw is Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
  • Michael Morath is Commissioner of Education.
  • Kristy Murray, D.V.M., Ph.D. is an associate professor of pediatrics and tropical medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital.
  • Major General John Nichols is the Texas Adjutant General.
  • Dorothy Overman, M.D. is the Comal County Health Authority.
  • Raymund Paredes, Ph.D. is Commissioner of Higher Education.
  • Gerald Parker, D.V.M. is Associate Vice President of Public Health Preparedness and Response at Texas A&M Health Science Center.  
  • David Slayton is Administrative Director of the State Office of Court Administration.
  • Kristina Stillsmoking, Ph.D. is Director of the Simulation Hospital, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School Of Medicine.
  • Victoria Sutton, Ph.D. is Director of the Center for Biodefense, Law and Public Policy at Texas Tech University School of Law.
  • William Tierney, M.D. is the inaugural Chair of the Department of Public Health at the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School.
  • Chris Traylor is Executive Commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
  • Dale Wainwright is Chair of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice.
  • Ben Zeller is the Victoria County Judge.

Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2




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