Flu activity remains high in Texas

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Despite the Center for Disease and Control (CDC) reporting that influenza activity has declined slightly within the past few weeks, Texas is still indicated as being one of the states with the highest flu activity.

Texas is one of 35 states with “high” flu activity. The CDC is reporting a widespread statewide flu activity level with 34.72% of positive flu specimens in Texas hospitals.

“I don’t tend to get sick easily and I usually don’t get my flu shot,” said Clay Edwards, a first-year philosophy major. “I’m pretty conscious of staying clean and washing my hands regularly.”

Influenza, more commonly referred to as “the flu”, is nothing new. Every year, the season approaches, and doctors urge the public to get their shots and be more diligent about staying sanitary; however, health officials predicted this flu season to hit harder than in years past.

Three Tarrant County influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported, according to the most recent Tarrant County influenza surveillance weekly report.

Tarrant County does not track adult influenza-associated deaths because it’s not required by law, said Richard Hill, a public information officer for Tarrant County public health.

Eleven people have died from flu-related complications in Dallas County for the 2019-20 season, according to the county’s Health and Human Services.

While there is no official start or end to flu season, it typically begins in October and lasts until February. TCU’s Brown-Lupton Health Center is encouraging students to be conscientious about staying healthy now that peak season is in full swing.

Although Lois-Kate Kolkhorst, a junior fashion merchandising major, had the flu twice before, the beginning of peak season didn’t phase her — until she tested positive for influenza last week.

“I’m out of class for the whole week,” Kolkhorst said. “I know a few people that have the flu right now. I’m a little nervous about the flu affecting my school work.”

For both Kolkhorst and Edwards, getting the flu shot was never something in which they partook. However, Dr. Jane Torgerson, the medical director at the health center, advises getting the shot.

“The flu vaccine is an inactivated virus and you cannot get the flu from it,” Torgerson said. “If you do get the flu despite getting the vaccine, it is much more likely to be a mild case. What is worse, two seconds of discomfort from a shot or four to five days of misery from the flu?”

Since the start of the new year, the health center has documented 17 cases of influenza, a number similar to years past, according to Torgerson.

Although Torgerson, who has been at TCU for 12 years, said this year’s flu season hasn’t been nearly as bad as years past, she still encourages students to take preemptive measures to avoid getting sick.

Aside from getting the flu vaccine, she urges students to wash their hands, avoid sharing drinks, straws, or utensils and, arguably the most important one, to stay home when sick.

TCU offers over 3,500 free flu vaccines each year. All health center staff obtain the flu vaccine each year. Additionally, TCU has hand sanitizers located conveniently throughout campus and posts flu prevention information across campus and electronically to students.