This winter, the bitter cold isn’t the only concern for many Texans, as the Lone Star State leads the nation in number of flu cases.
As Rare previously reported, Walgreens’ flu index showed, statistically, the virus is sweeping across the state, infecting more patients than usual.
Additionally, the Houston area ranked fourth within the state for number of flu cases.
As the state with the second largest population in the nation, Texas’ population does mean more residents to get sick.
However, data shows the spread of the virus isn’t just about numbers:
California, home to the largest population in the United States, escaped the top 10 sickest states.
Dr. Christopher Ziebell, emergency department director at the Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas, spoke with Austin’s KXAN about the serious nature of this flu season, confirming doctors are already seeing the number of cases expected during the peak of flu season, which usually doesn’t occur until February.
“With the vaccine being less effective than usual, I’m concerned that this one may hit us hard come February,” he said in an interview with KXAN.
While health experts initially stressed the importance of getting a flu shot to avoid the spreading virus, health officials are now striking a different chord.
According to medical professionals, this year’s flu outbreak stems from a weak vaccine, paired with a strong strain of the virus.
The vaccine is reportedly effective against 10 percent of flu strains reportedly active this year.
A common strain infecting patients this year is H3N2, which experts say is more dangerous than those faced in prior years.
To avoid contracting the flu, health officials recommend people remember to wash their hands often, and, if you do become ill, stay home so you don’t infect others.
Although the vaccine does not protect against 90 percent of the strains out there, experts still say it offers valuable protection and may decrease the length of your illness if you do become ill.