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Wahler addresses Commissioners Court

By Bev Barr BCC Editor

Public health nurse Bridget Wahler addressed the commissioners at the Commissioners Court meeting last Thursday, providing an overview of the Texas Department of State Health Services 2016 Annual Report. Health Service Region 8 includes both urban (San Antonio) and rural populations, and the 16-page report covers a range of topics of interest to both. Wahler, however, focused her comments on subjects most critical to rural populations such as those found in Bandera County.
• Zika virus prevention
• Child abuse
• Emergency Response preparedness
• Immunization coverage rates
• Food and sanitation inspections
• STDs
• Rabies
In Bandera County, statistically more people choosing to not have their children immunized by submitting a conscientious exemption affidavit to schools. Immunization numbers statistics are up in general throughout the state of Texas, but lower in a few counties such as Bandera. Texas immunization rate is still below the national average, however.
Judge Evans and Commissioner Rutherford asked Wahler if there was data demonstrating a corollary or causality relationship between incidents of illness and lack of immunization. Wahler replied that there is no data at this point, but that the belief is that there is or will be a “herd immunity” effect, meaning that those who are not immunized benefit by being part of a community of that is immunized or that has developed immunity to a specific disease. The Department of State Health Services will be watching these numbers closely.
Child fatality reviews and TB investigations are low in this area, because of the few numbers of incidents.
The Department of Health Services allocates resources to prevention of diseases such as those spread by mosquitoes, such as Zika Virus, and those avoidable with immunizations, such as childhood diseases and rabies. They also spend time and money working with state and county organizations to be prepared for emergencies, such as terrorism emergency through a “Stop the Bleed” campaign, food inspections, inspections of youth camps, and sanitation inspections.
Wahler said that she has been working closely with the Arms of Hope in several ways to prevent illness and to teach mothers to install car seats properly. Commissioner Ruthford told the court he finally called for help after spending about an hour trying to install a car seat for his grandchild.
Wahler replied, “In all the inspections I’ve done, I’ve yet to find one (a child’s carseat) correctly installed.”
Other court news, two requests to replat adjoining lots into a single lot by Flying T. Ranch Subdivision were approved. A public hearing date to consider a preliminary plan to replat two lots was set for July 13.
As the meeting concluded, Judge Evans took a couple of minutes to encourage citizens to educate themselves about the 20 items on the agenda for Gov. Abbott’s upcoming special session, starting July 18. Some of these laws, if passed, will place the burden of millions of dollars directly on towns and counties. “Everybody should pay attention and let your opinion be heard,” Judge Evans.