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West Nile Deaths Push Dallas County Over Fatality Record


Dallas County reports two more West Nile virus deaths. That brings the total to five this year, surpassing the 2006 record of four deaths. 

Health officials say the latest victims were elderly, in their 80’s and 90’s, with underlying medical conditions. Both men lived in the same zip code, 75225: inside Lovers Lane, Central Expressway, Walnut Hill and the Tollway.

Dallas County epidemiologist Scott Sawlis says don’t think you’re safe if your zip code is not on the county’s West Nile map.

“We have to function by universal precaution, which means when you go outside it does not matter where you live you must wear repellant, wear long clothes and you must mosquito proof your house,” Sawlis said.

So far, Dallas County reports 94 cases of West Nile virus; 61 in Tarrant; half that in Denton County; eight in Collin.

Dallas-Fort Worth has far more human cases of West Nile than anywhere in the U.S.

BJ Austin, KERA News

5 things to watch for in the Texas runoffs

Texas voters will select party nominees in 37 runoff elections on Tuesday, and political junkies will be watching for clues to the future.

If tea party candidate Ted Cruz defeats Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, it could signal that Gov. Rick Perry and the party establishment are losing control of the Republican voter.

The turnout in the Democratic Senate race will reveal if voters from that party are taking statewide races seriously while Republicans are holding all of those seats.

Conservative activists have invested heavily in local lawmaker races, hoping to push the Legislature further to the right.

Several races involving Hispanics and Democratic defectors will show whether Republican voters are ready for more diversity.

And key Democratic races for Congress will show whether new leadership is emerging in that party.


Perry appoints 2 to key state health posts

Gov. Rick Perry has appointed two men to hold key posts in the Health and Human Services Commission following recent high-level departures.

Perry named former state lawmaker Dr. Kyle Janek as commissioner of the agency, which oversees the state's provision of health care for the poor, services for the disabled and the state health department. Janek served as a Republican in the Texas Legislature from 1995-2008. The Austin anesthesiologist has also recently worked a lobbyist representing a medical malpractice insurance interests and the American Cancer Society.

Perry also promoted Chris Traylor from commissioner of the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, a post he's held since 2010. He will now serve as deputy commissioner of Health and Human Services responsible for the Medicaid program.


No toll cut for disabled veterans in Central Texas

Disabled veterans are not being granted discounts on Central Texas toll roads despite legislation passed in 2009 giving state agencies authority to grant free rides.

The Austin American-Statesman reports Sunday that only toll authorities in the Houston area have granted disabled veterans a discount. Two agencies that oversee Central Texas tolls have not adopted the practice, and do not plan to in the short term.

Rep. Abel Herrero of Corpus Christi, who co-wrote the 2009 bill, says he though the agencies would see it as an opportunity "to say thank you."

The Texas Department of Transportation, the largest authority, says granting disabled veterans free rides could harm annual revenues by 10 percent, according to a 2009 analysis based on each veteran making a round trip five days a week.