The flu epidemic appears to be on a downward trend in Denton County, although leaders say numbers are still far higher than normal.
Denton County Chief Epidemiologist Juan Rodriguez reports 112 new cases between Jan. 12 and Jan. 18 with one new death and 25 hospitalizations at reporting organizations.
For the third consecutive week the case counts dropped for Denton County; topping off at 265 cases in the last full week of 2013.
Rodriguez believes that high point was likely the spike for the flu season this year putting the county now on a downward slide, but he said that’s no reason to get too comfortable with the situation.
"It's very important to notify people that we're still seeing high activity,” said Rodriguez. “We may be over the hump but the activity now is still more than other seasons in general."
That’s the warning coming from a lot of care givers this week.
At Texas Health Presbyterian Denton leaders report five positive flu tests this week and 93 people coming in to get checked out for flu. Those numbers are also down for them but Doctor Aitazaz Shah said he’s still hearing from a lot of concerned patients.
When they develop these symptoms they're seeking medical attention much sooner than later,” said Shah.
Shah said he’s not ready to call this the drop in cases they’ve been waiting for just yet, and he expects numbers to remain high for the time being as the flu remains widespread nationwide.
"Maybe in the next few weeks or so but I don't think we've seen a drop in the cases quite yet,” he said.
At Denton Regional Medical Center’s Urgent Care clinic Friday nurses saw an empty waiting room for the first time in a while.
"It has definitely declined since the influx after Christmas,” said Nurse Manager Patrick LaFontaine.
LaFontaine said their care givers are still advising everyone to remain cautious against the flu as Texas remains at a high flu alert.
"I think we are on the downtrend, but at the same time I think it's still very important that you do go out and get your flu shot; still practice flu precautions,” he said.
Of course the seriousness of the illness can still be seen as deaths continue to come in.
The latest Denton County death was reported late Thursday: a man in his 40s from the Lewisville area who had underlying health issues and no flu shot.
Rodriguez said nationwide the flu continues to affect the younger and middle-aged adult population much more heavily than most years. In fact ages 18-64 continue to make up about 60 percent of the flu hospitalizations in the United States this year.
Rodriguez said he hopes to see the downward trend continue but expects this flu season could last a month or longer still. He urges folks to continue to take precautions.