Flu virus activity is on the rise in North Texas and across the state, according to multiple health departments.
Officials with Dallas County Health and Human Services Department said Friday flu activity is increasing earlier this season, compared to recent years, and that more than 10% of influenza tests from area hospitals were returned as positive over the last two weeks.
Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed Texas among seven states, along with Puerto Rico, where flu activity was rated as "high" for week 46, through Nov. 16. The other states listed as high were all in the south or southwest United States -- Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada and South Carolina.
That "high" activity rating represented a jump for Texas -- during the last reporting week Texas' flu activity was "moderate."
Neighbors New Mexico and Oklahoma were both listed as low, but not minimal. Data was insufficient in Louisiana this week, but during the last reporting period the CDC had Louisiana as very high.
Health officials advise it's never too late to get the flu vaccine. Outside of that, alcohol-based sanitizer can kill some germs, including cold and flu viruses, when used correctly, but that simply washing your hands may prove to do a better job at cleaning your hands and preventing illness than sanitizer.
Below are some tips to consider, especially if you're joining the millions of others expected to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday. The tips are provided by the CDC and local doctors to help prevent the spread of germs and viruses this winter season.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched items at work and at home, such as keyboards, remotes, counter tops and other work spaces. Keep a stock of disinfectant wipes handy.
- Use hand sanitizer frequently and put one in your pocket or purse.
- Stock up on zinc. According to the Mayo Clinic, taking zinc at the onset of a cold or when you start to feel a tickle in your throat may lessen the severity of your symptoms.
- Drink water and stay hydrated just as you would over the summer to prevent dehydration.
- Take Vitamin C, either through oranges or supplements, in order to boost your immune system. Doctors say other vitamins like Vitamin D take a hit in the winter because we’re not getting as much sun exposure as we do in the summer.
- If you are sick or getting over an illness, use tissues any time you cough or sneeze to prevent the spread of germs. Your co-workers will thank you for it.