By Jennifer Luna
Since December, media outlets have reported an increase in the number of flu cases in Texas this year, but according to the Center for Disease Control, flu rates in Texas have not spiked this season. Instead, the ages of the majority affected have changed.
The CDC reports majority of adults affected span from 18 to 64 years old, as opposed to last year’s senior adults ages 65 years and older.
Every year the CDC ranks Texas and 13 other states as having a high number of outbreaks. But no numbers indicate a record breaking trend this year.
“There’s nothing abnormal,” said Carol Schliesinger, spokesperson for Metro Health.
However, the ages of people being affected this year changed said Kaparaboyna Kumar, distinguished professor, vice chair of Medical student Education for the University Texas Health Science Center and family medicine director of the Department of Family and Community Medicine.
Kumer suggested a couple of possibilities that may have contributed to the shift.
One explanation could be young adults interact more in the community, or seniors can possibly have immunity to a new strand of virus this season.
Whatever the reason one thing remains true; flu season spikes in February.
Even though we barely kicked off the month, we still have about two more months to dodge the flu. So get vaccinated, if you haven’t done so yet.
The CDC states a sharp increase in flu reports nationwide during February as opposed to other months in the season (October through March). The CDC shows data from 1982-83 to 2012-13.
Kumar said awareness is the first step to keep healthy.
He recommends getting the flu vaccine every year, because the vaccine only lasts up to eight to nine months.
Kumar debunked the common notion that you can get the flu from the flu shot.
“The flu shot is a dead virus that comes from the CDC (Center for Disease Control). They make a prediction which virus is most likely to come this season,” Kumar said. “Currently we have vaccines for four kinds of viruses.”
He particularly urges those diagnosed with other health problems to get flu shots.
“Anybody can get the flu, but the people with other health conditions like diabetes, HIV, chronic respiratory disease, emphysema are more vulnerable,” Kumar said.
Even smokers are susceptible to the virus, he said.
When deciding whether to get the vaccine, Kumar warns those who already have the flu or another illness to not get vaccinated, but this does not apply to minor illnesses.
“If you have a minor cold, sore throat, or any other symptoms, not a problem. If you are very sick, you don’t want to be challenging the body with new things when you are trying to battle something else,” he said. “Allergy problems, no problem. Mild cold, no problem.”
Other ways to prevent the spread?
Wash your hands with soap and water or use sanitizer;
Stay at home when feeling under the weather; and
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow.