Early spike in flu cases may lead to heightened cases throughout season



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Posted on December 30, 2013 at 6:50 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 10 at 4:46 PM

AUSTIN -- Three weeks ago, KVUE reported an unreasonably high number of H1N1 and other Type A flu cases. Dell Children's Hospital is seeing the most in the Austin area, but now, cases are spiking at other healthcare centers.

January and February are the months doctors usually see the most flu cases in Central Texas. This year, a spike came early at St. David's Healthcare.

"We have seen a higher volume of influenza requiring hospitalization and severe cases of influenza requiring ICU level of support," said Dr. Matt Robinson, an infectious disease physician who practices at St David's Medical Center in South Austin.

Robinson said most of the complications and serious flu-related illnesses are of the Type A variety, and the majority of those are H1N1. He said every patient he examined in the ICU had one thing in common: they hadn't received their flu shots.

Robinson said it's not too late to get a flu shot. Given the spike in numbers before the traditional flu season, it's the best way to stay protected from the flu.

"We don't know what the remainder of the flu season holds for us," Robinson said. "It's too early to predict what the numbers will continue to look like, whether this is a larger spike that's going to fall off, or if we're going to have a sustained high level of activity."

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