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State health agency battles AG over release of Zika virus information

The Texas Department of State Health Services is fighting a ruling by the Texas Attorney General’s office that it must release Zika virus information requested under the Texas Public Information Act.

DSHS is suing Attorney General Paxton to prevent release.

The requestor, not identified in court filings or the original AG ruling, sought the number of recorded Zika virus cases broken down by Texas zip code,

The DSHS asked the AG’s office for a ruling citing 552.101 of the Govt. Code, the exception in the Texas Public Information Act for information made confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory or by judicial decision.   

In this case, DSHS argued that the information was protected by common law privacy and by a provision in the Health and Safety Code which protects information acquired or created in an investigation.

The AG’s office said that only statistical information was being requested and that it was sufficiently de-identified to prevent the identification of any person. 

Also, the information was not of a “highly intimate or embarrassing” nature and therefore must be released, so neither provision applied.

The letter ruling also noted that DSHS did not comply with TPIA deadlines to seek an AG decision, also which was taken into account in the ruling.

Read the court filing here

Questions? Contact TAB's Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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