Flu on the rise in Texas

Flu season has returned this year with devastating results. Texas has been classified as having “widespread” influenza by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

According to DSHS there have been six pediatric flu deaths this season, which started Sept. 29. The Dallas County Health Department has reported 35 total deaths connected to the flu as of Jan. 17.

Statistics are consistent across the state of Texas: Tarrant County, where Ft. Worth is located, has reported five deaths, Travis County, where Austin is located, has reported nine deaths, and Harris County, where Houston is located, has reported 13 deaths this season.

DSHS reports that 37 percent of people seeking health care for flu-like symptoms fit within the age group of 25-49 — the largest percentage out of five categories. The CDC encourages everyone older than six months to get a flu vaccine. Symptoms of the flu can include fever, muscle ache, fatigue, a runny or stuffy nose and cough.

Besides the vaccine, the CDC recommends these other strategies to keep from getting or spreading the flu: stay home when sick to avoid spreading illness to others, do not visit people in the hospital if you have flu-like symptoms, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow or a tissue, properly dispose of used tissues, wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

UTSA Student Health Services offers flu vaccinations costing $10 for students and $15 for faculty. These vaccinations are by appointment only.

Both of the Health Services’ locations, 1.500 in the Recreation and Wellness Center on the Main Campus and 1.308 in the Buena Vista Building at the Downtown Campus, provide the service. For more information go to utsa.edu/health.