Flu on the rise in North Texas

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on January 3, 2014 at 8:50 PM

Updated Saturday, Jan 4 at 12:19 AM

PLANO — Michael Brown could barely muster the strength to get to the doctor.

"I feel like I'm going to pass out pretty much," he said hunched over in an exam room at a Plano CareNow clinic. "My back, my arms, my head, my legs [are] just [in] pain."

That's what the flu feels like. Brown tested positive for Type A.

CareNow, like most clinics across North Texas, is seeing a sharp rise in the number of cases.

Influenza is not a disease health care clinics are required to report. The latest numbers classify the outbreak in Texas as high. From Sept. 23, 2013 through Dec. 28, 2013, out of 14,290 tested for the flu, 2, 409 tested positive in Dallas County. There have been nine deaths in Dallas County in which the deceased tested positive for the flu.

Type A influenza is the most predominant strain in North Texas and across the country. H1N1, otherwise known as swine flu, is the most common Type A circulating presently.
 
"Rarely we'll see someone who tests positive for both [Type a and B]," explained Dr. Martin Jones, regional medical director for CareNow. "And yes, we do see people who have tested positive for the flu and had the flu shot."
 
"The good news is those people tend to have less symptoms than those who did not have the flu shot," he added. "So, there's still a great benefit of getting the flu shot."
 
Some clinics are running low on vaccine. Residents looking for the vaccine are advised to call in advance.
 
Late Friday, Dallas County Health and Human Services received a shipment, bringing the total available to 3,000. Residents who qualify may receive a free dose.
 
Jones said even negative flu tests may actually be the flu and can be treated with anti-viral medications. Drugs such as Tamiflu and Relenza are most effective if prescribed within the first 48 hours of the onset of illness.
 
Because of the North Texas flu outbreak, doctors offices have been packed. The day after Christmas, patients had to wait up to four4 hours to be seen in some urgent care clinics. Thanks to web check-in at CareNow, patients can wait at home until they're called, so they don't have sit in the lobby, potentially infecting other people.

Brown said he fears he'll bring his flu bug home to his three children.

"I do worry about that," he said.
 
Brown didn't get a flu shot.

Email jstjames@wfaa.com

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