H1N1 flu cases starting to show up in Central Texas


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News, photojournalist ERIN COKER and editor ROB DIAZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE


Posted on December 13, 2013 at 6:24 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 13 at 6:40 PM

AUSTIN -- Emergency room physicians are seeing cases of H1N1. While they say the strain of flu is not to be treated lightly, the odds are more in your favor this time around.

Seven-month-old Aiden spent his Friday morning hooked up to monitors at Dell Children's Medical Center. His mother, Tiffany Richardson, who just got over the flu, said she is afraid she may have given it to Aiden.

"I don't want him to be sick," said Richardson, holding back tears. "I don't like to see him in pain."

Emergency room doctors at Dell Children's say numbers taken just last week indicate a rise in the number of flu cases, including H1N1.

"Their data has been showing the vast majority of influenza that we've been seeing has been H1N1," said Robert Vezzetti, M.D., an emergency medicine pediatrician.

In the first week of December, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 1,667 patients tested for the flu. More than 300, nearly 20 percent, tested positive for influenza type A. 40 of those cases tested positive for H1N1.

In 2009, the H1N1 epidemic became so bad, Dell Children's had to set up tents in the parking lot to handle an overflow of flu patients.

"That particular year, that strain just really spread," said Vezzetti. "This year, we're not seeing that.  This year, we're still seeing flu, and the numbers are about what they usually are. We're just not seeing that virulence that flu strain had before."  

Vezzetti said that's due in large part to the flu vaccine that now guards against it.

"H1N1 has been included in the flu vaccine for a number of years now," he said.  "It's still there this year. H2N2 is in there, too, as is influenza B."

Richardson said she realizes the odds are against Aiden developing a serious form of flu, but she can't help but be concerned.

"I'm scared," she said. "I'm scared that it could be [the flu]. You do everything you can to keep your child safe and secure, yet, it's hard when everybody around you is sick."

Vezzetti said it's only a small percentage of patients, usually those who have heart, lung or immune problems, that are at a higher risk of developing severe complications from the flu. He said the best flu safeguards are to cover your sneezes, wash your hands and if you do come down the flu, stay hydrated.


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