Flu season in Texas is already ramping up, according to information released recently by the Department of State Health Services. DSHS officials say “statewide influenza-like illness activity” is already above the baseline and is increasing.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas was one of four states — Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were the other three — with a high influenza-like illness activity during the week of Dec. 2-8. During that same week, 6.2 percent of all deaths reported through the CDC’s “122 Cities Mortality Reporting System” were due to flu and pneumonia, just below 6.8 percent, which is where CDC sets the “epidemic threshold.”
Officials also noted that while the Texas flu season runs from October to May, it tends to peak each year in January and February — which means we likely haven’t seen the worst of it.
DSHS data shows that positive flu rapid tests have been reported in Johnson County, and Dr. Dale Lucas, an emergency medicine physician with Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne on Wednesday confirmed that information.
“We are seeing an uptick” in flu cases in the Texas Health Cleburne emergency room, Lucas said. “We see probably eight or 10 cases a day in the emergency room. And we have started seeing more and more coming in.”
Flu symptoms include fever and an all-over ache, and Lucas said those that go to the doctor as soon as the symptoms start can get a medicine called Tamiflu — the brand name— that can help combat the virus.
But, Lucas added, the medicine is expensive. And, he said, “It can help a little if you take it in the first 48 hours after you get sick. But really, it only knocks about a day or so off the course of the illness.”
Lucas said he recommends that his patients with the flu take an ibuprofen product — such as Advil — to most effectively combat the flu symptons.