Recent News

DSHS recommends venous specimens for hemoglobin and lead testing

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Lab encourages Texas Health Steps providers to submit venous specimens whenever possible for hemoglobin and lead testing. Finger stick capillary specimens are more likely to clot and may not be suitable for testing. The lab continues to accept capillary specimens for Texas Health Steps anemia and lead screenings and will test those that are not clotted.

Questions and comments should be sent to DSHS Specimen Logistics by e-mail at

CDC calls on pediatricians to monitor and report Zika infection in infants

Pediatricians should learn to recognize risk factors for Zika infection, monitor and test suspected cases in conjunction with local and state health authorities, and report confirmed cases, according to directives recently issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Texas Department of State Health Services provides a central repository of Zika information for health care providers, including current testing, treatment, and reporting guidelines. also offers important public education materials in English and Spanish that are free and available for health care providers. The materials include fact sheets, cards, posters, newsletter articles, sharable social media posts and graphics, online ads, and more.

To date, all Zika infections in Texas are linked to international travel, but domestic transmission is likely. The first infant born in the mainland U.S. with microencephaly and other Zika-related birth defects was delivered on May 31. At that time, more than 300 pregnant women in the U.S. and its territories were believed to be infected with Zika.

Pediatricians can discuss suspected congenital Zika cases in newborns with the CDC Emergency Operations Center, which can be reached at 770-488-7100 or

Texas Health Steps (THSteps) preventive care medical checkups diagnosis codes changed

Effective February 1, 2016, Texas Health Steps (THSteps) preventive care medical checkups diagnosis codes changed. Diagnosis codes Z00110 which covers newborns birth through 7 days of age, and Z00111 which covers newborns eight through 28 days of age, became benefits for THSteps preventive care medical checkups. More information on THSteps checkups and preventive medical checkup diagnosis codes is available on the THSteps website.

AAP reports on waning Tdap effectiveness in adolescents

Immunity provided by the tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine wanes in adolescents, according to a study recently published in Pediatrics. Researchers found that protection from pertussis diminished within two to three years. The CDC vaccine schedule recommends that Tdap be administered at age 11 or 12 as a booster to the diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTap) vaccine that is administered between ages 4 and 6. Providers are urged to follow the recommended vaccine schedule and to be aware that vaccination may not prevent whooping cough outbreaks.

Don’t Delay Medicaid Re-enrollment Application

Don’t Delay Medicaid Re-enrollment Application: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced that the March 24, 2016, deadline for Medicaid provider re-enrollment has been extended to September 25, 2016, to aid compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission encourages all providers who have not yet submitted a re-enrollment application to begin the process at once. Providers who do not complete the re-enrollment process by the deadline may not be eligible for reimbursement for services provided to fee-for-service recipients or those enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations or dental maintenance organizations. Re-enrollment application processing times vary based on the accuracy and complexity of the application.

Re-enrollment is required for all providers enrolled before January 1, 2013. A downloadable Quick Reference Guide simplifies the process by consolidating the required steps and resources in one easy-to-use document.