Health Leaders Warn of More Flu in North Texas

More North Texas urgent care doctors say they’ve seen a spike in flu cases in just the past few weeks.

Folks at the CareNow clinic in Denton say most of the patients they’ve seen recently have been in for either flu-like symptoms or strep throat.
"Company-wide Sunday, a shorter day for us, we saw over 500 cases of just influenza and influenza like illnesses,” said Dr. Martin Jones, Regional Medical Director for Care Now.
Other smaller offices like Minor Emergency Denton also report a spike that took off in the days leading up to Christmas.
"Since Friday we've had 14 cases thus far,” said M.E.D. nurse Shawn Rhodes.
Rhodes said overall that nearly doubles M.E.D.’s flu caseload for December bringing the total to about 40.
Leaders at Denton County Public Health said the frequency of influenza activity has been on the rise for most of the month.
As those cases have come in across the Metroplex agencies have identified multiple strains including H1N1 or “swine flu”; the illness that triggered a serious outbreak in 2009. 
Dr. Jones said the biggest concern with any strain of the flu is it spreading and turning into larger problems.
"It can lead to complications like pneumonia,” he said, “the elderly and the very young are more susceptible, more higher risk for those complications, but those are the things that land people in the hospital."
That’s why he said it’s important folks get checked out if they are displaying symptoms of the flu; the reason Aubyn Bauman stopped by Care Now on Monday.
"The sore throat, cough, congestion,” she said running off her symptoms.
Bauman said she has a relative that’s undergone transplants in the past and is more susceptible to illness as a result. She said if it is the flu she may have to miss out on the holiday fun to avoid getting him sick.
"Unfortunately it's not the best time with Christmas but don't want to be around my family members and give them anything,” she said. "I did have the shot so hopefully that will keep me from having it hopefully, but we'll see."
While treatments like Tamaflu are options doctors say a positive diagnosis often requires folks to simply quarantine themselves to prevent the spread. Nurse Rhodes also recommends everyone follow steps like washing hands and not touching their eyes just in case there is an undiagnosed case around. 
"Treat the symptoms and proactively try to prevent people from getting the flu in the first place,” he said.
Denton County Public Health also reminds people that it is not too late to get a flu shot. They continue to offer shots for free at their clinic and local urgent cares say they have plenty on hand as well.
However doctors remind folks that the shot takes about 2 weeks to take effect in the body, so for that time you are still susceptible to the illness and can still get it.
Right now Texas has some of the highest numbers of flu cases in the state and a state-wide health alert has been triggered.
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