Flu Season

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

From Texas Standard.

It’s been a costly and deadly flu season in Texas and across the country. State health records released earlier this month indicate nearly 3,000 adult Texans have died from either the flu or pneumonia. Many of those who died were over the age of 65. Five pediatric deaths have also been reported.

Lifetime. Education/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

Since October 2017, over 2300 Texans have died from the flu. Of those death, over half have been among the elderly. Called the worst flu season in over a decade, it has sparked many conversations about how we can better protect ourselves and our loved-ones from the annual virus. Part of that protection, and part of limiting risk exposure, comes from how we talk about the flu.

From Texas Standard.

The most wonderful time of the year is gone, and it’s been replaced by what some might say is one of the worst times of the year – flu season. This year it’s particularly bad in Texas.

Dr. Robert Legare Atmar, professor and interim chief of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, says a severe flu epidemic in Australia last winter (that’s summertime in the U.S.) and a few relatively mild flu seasons here indicate the U.S. is due for a lot of flu cases.

CDC

Nine deaths from influenza in Travis County this flu season represent just one measure of how severe the season has been.

Dr. Phil Huang, Medical Director of the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department, notes that cases started showing up earlier in the season, toward the end of 2013, and that patients under the age of 60 were among the most severely affected. 

"Definitely what we're seeing is worse than what we've seen in some past seasons," Dr. Huang said, "and also the population that's being affected with some of the more severe illness is a younger population than what we were seeing." 

CDC

The flu season has hit unusually early this year, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, Texas is one of the states hardest hit. Physicians are urging everyone to get a flu shot. 

Typically, the flu season peaks in January, but so far this year at least five deaths have already occurred in Texas. At a press conference Monday, medical experts at Seton Medical Center Austin said the number of positive flu tests has doubled over the past two weeks.

Dr. Irfan Hydari, the medical director of emergency services at Seton, said the flu strand that is responsible for the vast majority of illnesses is H1N1, or swine flu. That strand became notorious in 2009 when it caused a flu pandemic

But Hydari said vaccine technology continues to improve, and this year it has been adapted to combat H1N1.

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