An infectious disease specialist who helped fight the spread of HIV in Africa as well as H1N1, West Nile, Zika and chikungunya will now lead Comal County’s efforts to stop coronavirus.
Dr. Anikumar “Anil” Mangla was hired by the Office of Public Health to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, the county said in a press release today. He joins epidemiologist Connie Alaniz who was hired on April 17.
As a two-person team their responsibilities include testing and tracking coronavirus while educating the public and local stakeholders on how to limit transmission.
Mangla will focus on strategy and public education while Alaniz conducts investigations.
Most recently, Mangla was a professor of public health at University of the Incarnate Word (UIW); he has also served as lead epidemiologist for the state of Indiana, Georgia state epidemiologist, and chief epidemiologist and assistant director of health for San Antonio Metro Health.
A South Africa native, Mangla immigrated to El Paso in 1988 and earned his Ph.D. in infectious disease from Texas Tech University. Early in his career, he worked with the United Nations on monitoring efforts to prevent the spread of HIV in Africa, and over the past 15 years has led epidemiologists, immunologists and laboratories in Indiana, Georgia and San Antonio – over that time managing the public response to H1N1, West Nile, Zika and chikungunya in those respective jurisdictions.
At UIW, Mangla researched diabetes treatment and complications in San Antonio, and was appointed to a gubernatorial task force on reducing diabetes-related kidney failure in Texas before COVID-19 halted its meetings.
“Anil brings an incredible wealth of experience and knowledge to the Office of Public Health,” said Cheryl Fraser, the county’s public health director. “We are lucky to have him and excited to work with him in continuing to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in Comal County.”
Mangla said he felt a calling to return to full-time epidemiology work.
“It’s whatever we can do to help in a crisis. I have the knowledge to help, so why not use it to help a county I live so close to? After meeting Cheryl and her team, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. We are going to make a difference.”
Mangla’s position was funded through a state grant program aimed at helping local entities fight coronavirus. It expires March 15, 2021, unless extended beforehand. Commissioners Court approved the county’s application for the grant on April 23.
Comal County confirmed zero new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.
With six deaths and 56 recoveries, the county has six active cases, one of which is hospitalized.
As of Thursday morning, the Comal County Office of Public Health has received reports of the following test information:
- 1,047 tests conducted
- 68 positive tests
- 913 negative tests
- 66 results still pending
Some 475 people have been tested for COVID-19 antibodies at the Office of Public Health over the past two weeks. Of those, seven have been confirmed positive, indicating they had contracted COVID-19 in the past. These numbers do not include any antibody testing done elsewhere in the county, and may include residents of other counties.
Information about COVID-19, as well as a list of county office reopenings and numbers to call for testing, is available at www.comalcountytx.com/covid19.
Residents with questions or concerns about the novel coronavirus can call the county’s dedicated COVID-19 hotline, 830-221-1120, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.