AUSTIN - Recent heavy rains and flooding following Hurricane Dolly and Tropical Storm Edouard sent the Texas mosquito population soaring, the Texas Department of State Health Services reports.
Health Commissioner David Lakey suggested that citizens use bug repellent “every time they are outside.”
Meanwhile, health officials are focusing on a dozen possible cases of flea-borne murine typhus in Travis County.
Headache, fever, nausea, body aches and skin rash are possible symptoms of typhus. Certain prescribed antibiotics are used to treat the disease.
State health officials said it is unusual for murine typhus to be contracted as far north as Travis County.
Stop now, AG tells debt collector
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on Aug. 6 charged a Dallas-based debt collection firm with using deceptive practices to collect payments from Texas consumers.
Abbott took legal action to stop Anderson, Crenshaw & Associates LLC from harassing Texas debtors with deceptive letters and unlawful telephone calls.
The enforcement action also accuses Anderson, Crenshaw & Associates of threatening to garnish consumers’ wages or file liens against homesteads in violation of the Texas Debt Collection Act.
The attorney general’s office cited complaints that the defendant’s representatives harassed, abused and threatened debtors during profanity-laden, repeated or continuous telephone calls.
The attorney general’s enforcement action seeks civil penalties of up to $20,000 for each violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Perry criticizes ethanol decision
Gov. Rick Perry on Aug. 7 issued a statement lashing back at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to deny his request for a 50 percent waiver from the grain-based Renewable Fuels Standard.
Perry said the EPA’s decision “not only goes against common sense, but every American’s grocery bill.”
And, he said, the decision would increase the burden on families while doing even more harm to the livestock industry.
“Any government mandate that artificially props-up a single industry to the detriment of millions of Americans is bad public policy,” he added.
Austin leads hard-drinking list
Forbes magazine reported Aug. 8 that Austin, Texas, is No. 1 on the list of the country’s hardest-drinking cities.
Forbes based its story on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey, assessing what citizens reported about their drinking habits.
An estimated two-thirds of Austin residents have a least one drink per month, the study showed. That’s easily more than half a million drinks.
The study put Milwaukee in second place and San Francisco in third.
Crane safety looms as issue here
News of collapsing cranes and related accidents in other cities has made Austin want to do more to ensure safety of workers and bystanders.
Capital city visitors find the “national bird of Texas” or the heavy construction crane, easy to spot these days. They perch on or next to new high rise buildings that have popped in the downtown area.
City Manager Marc Ott is studying crane inspection processes and procedures used by other cities and will report his findings to the city council soon.
State executes 2 foreign nationals
The state of Texas executed convicted murderers Jose Medellin, 31, of Mexico on Aug. 5, and Heliberto Chi, 29, of Honduras on Aug. 7.
The Medellin execution prompted national and international concern because the Texas judiciary failed to inform Medellin of his right to consular access and assistance during trial. The failure reportedly violated the Vienna Convention, leaving to speculation what might happen to Americans arrested in foreign countries.
Goal: Cleaner air on school buses
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Parent Teacher Association announced Aug. 7 that they will work together to distribute funding to protect school children from harmful particulate matter by retrofitting diesel burning school buses.