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." 

Hand position for vaccination
Image courtesy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Texas scored 7 out of 10 in public health emergency readiness, according to a new report issued today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust For America's Health. The study lauds Texas for improving health spending over the past couple years, but warns that the state's looming budget shortfall could reduce our ability to deal with epidemics and bioterrorism.