Flu cases on the rise in Hays County

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Today, officials with Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH) confirmed three flu-related deaths in the county.

The child died at Dayton Children's Hospital on Saturday, January 6. They stated that there have been 1,750 pediatric flu cases reported in the state during this flu season. A flu shot can also reduce a child's chance of dying from the flu. Some protection is better than none, and the flu may be less severe in people who have been vaccinated.

ODH also is reporting more than 1,700 new confirmed flu-associated hospitalizations in OH during the first week of January, a significant increase over 925 reported during the last week of December. There have been 3,854 flu hospitalizations reported in Ohio.

"The virus we're giving them is dead, it's virtually impossible to get the flu from a vaccine", de Lota said.

To protect yourself against the flu avoid close contact with sick people, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, cover your coughs and sneezes, wash your hands often (with soap and water), and clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with flu viruses.

You can get the flu shot at most pharmacies.

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That's probably an underestimation of the true number because health care providers aren't required to report cases to the health department, and many people don't seek health care, Scherzer said. "Every spring, we try to guess what strains are going to be in the environment, so six months before anybody really is getting ready for flu, we're guessing from the Southern Hemisphere what's going to happen in the Northern Hemisphere", he said.

The strain of the virus that has been predominant this flu season (H3N2) is more risky for the elderly and young children, Johnson said.

Last year, 12 states had widespread cases, but this year there are 46.

Influenza is so rampant in North Texas that Dallas Methodist Hospital is actually having to turn away patients with non-severe cases of the illness.

Dr. Michael de Lota, family medicine physician at ARC Kyle Plum Creek, said he believed the spike in cases stems from fewer people getting the flu vaccine. The flu can lead to complications like pneumonia, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions.

White County Public Health nurse Marsha Oilar says she administers 600 doses of the flu vaccine each year. It is impossible to predict how bad a flu season will be.