AUSTIN — The Texas Department of State Health Services has confirmed a Zika virus infection in a baby recently born with microcephaly in Harris County.

The July 13 report is the first official confirmation of a Zika-related microcephaly case in Texas. According to the agency, the mother traveled from Latin America, where she was likely infected and the baby acquired the infection in utero.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt. “This underscores the damage Zika can have on unborn babies. Our state’s work against Zika has never been more vital.”

DSHS is coordinating with Harris County Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to follow the case.

So far, 59 cases of Zika virus disease have been reported in Texas, including three confirmed cases of Zika in pregnant women. All three are related to travel abroad to areas with active Zika transmission. So far there have been no reported cases of Zika virus transmitted by mosquitoes in Texas.

Nevertheless, health officials are urging all citizens to protect themselves from mosquito bites by applying EPA-approved insect repellent, wearing pants and shirts that cover exposed skin, and using screens or closing windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home.

Also, health officials suggest removing standing water in and around the home, such as water in cans, toys, tires, plant saucers and any container that can hold water. Trash cans or containers where water can collect should be kept covered.

Abbott treated for burns

Gov. Greg Abbott suffered second- and third-degree burns caused by scalding water on his legs and feet while vacationing with his wife in Wyoming last week.

Abbott was transported to the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, where on July 12 he underwent a successful skin graft procedure. He was discharged from the facility on July 15.

AG warns of email scams

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on July 13 posted a warning about “suspicious e-mails containing malicious software seemingly coming from the Office of the Attorney General.”

The e-mail claims to come from the AG’s Consumer Protection Division to inform business owners that a complaint has been filed against their organization. A link to the complaint is provided and once clicked on, it downloads harmful software onto the computer.

Business growth continues

Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos on July 13 released numbers showing double-digit growth for new Texas business creations for the first half of 2016 compared to the first half of 2015.  

“I am proud to announce that despite economic challenges facing the nation, the Texas economy remains resilient with continued double-digit growth in new business creations,” Cascos said.

From Jan. 1 through June 30, some 91,578 new business entities were created to form new for-profit corporations, professional corporations, professional associations, limited liability companies and limited partnerships. This represents a 10 percent increase from 2015, which saw the formation of 83,235 entities in the same time period.

Bus retro-fit funds available

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality announced July 14 that applications are now being accepted for the Texas Clean School Bus Program.

More than $5.9 million in grant funds are available to cover the cost of retrofitting diesel-powered school buses with emission-reduction devices. This will reduce children’s exposure to diesel exhaust, and will help reduce air pollution.

Eligible applicants must be public school districts or charter schools in the state of Texas that operate diesel-powered school buses on daily routes to and from schools.

Governor offers assistance

Gov. Greg Abbott on July 17 spoke with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards following the shooting deaths of three Louisiana peace officers. They discussed their shared grief about the back-to-back similar tragedies in the two neighboring states.

Abbott offered any assistance needed for Louisiana to respond to the ongoing law enforcement needs as well the healing needs of the affected families, the police force, and the entire State of Louisiana. Edwards said he was thankful and was appreciative of the outreach he had already received from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The two governors concluded their call by expressing a strengthened joint commitment to protect law enforcement officers and asking for all to pray for Baton Rouge and our nation.