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Local flu season off to a rough start

Report shows 195 flu cases recorded locally so far
Posted at 7:21 PM, Dec 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-13 20:46:18-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Here in Nueces County, the flu season is off to an alarming start.

As of last week, the number of confirmed cases was more than double what we had for the same time period last year.

The Influenza Surveillance Report shows 195 reported cases of the flu just last week.

At this time last year, there were only 89 reported cases.

And while the numbers are high, it seems the flu hasn't been hitting people quite as hard this year.

"Fortunately, we have not seen a lot of people in the hospital very sick in the ICUs so I think people are more aware that they need to take the flu vaccine." Dr. Humayun Anjum said.

Anjum explains that getting the influenza vaccine can keep the flu from being as severe if you do still catch influenza. Something they have been seeing a lot of this season.

"So the idea is to get the vaccination," Anjum said. "Even if you get sick, you're not going to be that sick that you need to be hospitalized, which is a big deal."

"Right now, we're seeing two different strains of the flu. Olga Bacio, a local pharmacist, says, "More A's than B's but it varies and it fluctuates."

Reports indicate 143 confirmed type A cases in last week's report, compared to 52 confirmed type B cases.

Type A and type B can be equally dangerous, according to Anjum.

"The treatment does not really differ so it doesn't matter whether you have influenza A or influenza B, we still have the same treatment that we use," Anjum said.

And while numbers in the report are high, they may be even higher than we think.

"This number sometimes under reflects the numbers that we actually have because all of these are diagnosed flu cases and there are some cases that are non-diagnosed." Anjum said. "But I have a feeling that this number is probably going to go up because we're still in the (flu) season."

A common cold and influenza symptoms can seem similar, so how can you tell if it might actually be the flu?

"Usually I tell people if the onset of symptoms is very fast, so if you start developing fever, chills, feel very sick, very fast in the last one or two days and then you start developing body aches, fatigue," Anjum said.

When someone has the flu, their body is turned into a virus factory producing and spreading it in ways that can be tricky to defend against.

One study found the flu virus could survive two minutes of hand rubbing with an alcohol-based sanitizer when it is surrounded by a protective droplet of mucus.

When you have the the flu, you spread tiny infective particles in the air around you, just by breathing, talking or coughing.

Experts say vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu and any serious complications from the virus.