Demand for flu meds spikes across North Texas

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on January 6, 2014 at 6:06 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 6 at 6:19 PM

GRAPEVINE — Every swallow feels like fire in 16-year-old Remy Fairchild's throat.

"It feels like strep," Remy said, "but a little bit worse almost."

Flu-like illnesses are on the rise across North Texas, keeping doctors' offices and health clinics swamped with patients.

Denton County reported two flu-related deaths Monday, including the first pediatric death in North Texas — a Carrollton girl with underlying medical conditions. She had not received a flu vaccine because of her health conditions.

Denton, Tarrant, and Dallas counties are now all reporting adult flu deaths, though adult deaths do not have to be reported for health authorities, only pediatric cases.

The outbreak has become so serious and widespread, it's led to a spike in demand for medicines.

Tamiflu, an antiviral to shorten the duration of influenza, and codeine and hydrocodone cough medicines are both in short supply sporadically area-wide.

"Sometimes during this time of year, you do have to shop around a bit," said Janus Pemberton, a clinical practice manager at CVS.

Pemberton said CVS stores have had to shuffle and share stock to make sure their supplies are available wherever needed. That includes doses of flu vaccine.

"It is low supply, but it is available," Pemberton said. "We are expecting more from other states."

Remy Fairchild's tests came back negative, which doesn't necessarily make her feel better physically. She is glad her illness isn't as serious as influenza.

In Tarrant and Dallas counties, the latest the numbers show the percentage of flu-like illness has increased, but the percentage of positive flu tests has declined.

Health authorities suspect those numbers will change once school is back in session area-wide on Tuesday.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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