Zoonosis Control Program

Mission Statement:

We commit through personal and programmatic excellence to inform constituents about zoonotic diseases and animal control issues through education, disease surveillance and epidemiologic investigations.  Our combined team effort will contribute to DSHS’ overall objective of promoting and protecting the health and well-being of citizens in the State of Texas.

Program Overview:

The Health Service Region 7 Zoonosis Control Program exists to prevent and reduce the impact of zoonotic diseases on human endeavors in Central Texas.  Zoonoses are diseases transmissible between people and animals causing illness which adversely affect the patient. Program activities are comprised of disease investigation and reporting, disease consultation, education, and field surveillance. Specific examples of program activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Investigate all reports of human and animal notifiable disease conditions, and report resulted data to the State Zoonosis Control Branch and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Educate medical professionals (human and veterinary), media, government officials, and general public via telephone consultations, quarterly summaries, emails, and speaking engagements. 
  • Offer 24/7 consultations to the public, animal control officers (ACO), human health care providers and veterinarians when people or animals may have been exposed to rabies. Perform rabies risk assessments and make recommendations on post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent rabies disease.
  • Train ACOs, peace officers, and municipal and county government leaders in rabies prevention, animal control laws, and animal welfare by offering two Basic ACO Training Courses annually and 12 hours of continuing education annually.
  • Inspect public animal quarantine facilities annually to ensure compliance with state health and safety codes.  Require annual inspections of select animal shelters, and maintain animal shelter inspection records, as well as review animal rabies quarantine facility construction plans.
  • Sell rabies post-exposure biologicals (vaccine and immune globulin) to uninsured persons who are (1) unable to obtain free biologicals from a manufacturers’ Patient Assistance Programs (2) have a valid rabies exposure, and (3) have a prescription from a physician who will administer the injections.
  • Provide consultation on updating local animal control ordinances.
  • Perform tick and mosquito surveillance (trapping) to detect viral, rickettsial and spirochetal agents that may cause diseases in people.
  • Conduct emerging disease investigations.
  • Participate in special projects (i.e. Oral Rabies Vaccination Program, outbreak investigations). 

Animal Control Officer Training

Rabies Information 

West Nile Virus Information

Chagas Disease (Triatomid Bug Submission)

Tick Submission

Zika Information

Zoonosis Control Branch - Austin



David Smonko, DVM, Zoonosis Control Veterinarian

Elizabeth Lopez, Program Specialist III

Melissa Maass, Program Specialist III 

Jay Leivdal, Public Health Prevention Specialist

Region 7 Home

Last updated October 9, 2020