AUSTIN - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the outbreak and spread of the flu is now an epidemic.
In Travis County, 11 people have died, including four in the past week. Countywide, more than 1,200 cases have been confirmed, a number that is expected to rise.
In Hays County, flu cases in January are expected to outpace December. In December, officials said there were more than 300 confirmed cases. In the first ten days of January, there have already been 150 more cases.
Veterinarians are even warning pet owners about canine influenza.
As concern grows over the spread of the flu, we wanted to verify some claims.
Claim 1: Cold weather leads to people getting the flu.
"(People) tend to congregate indoors, not go outside. And because of that, the incidents of passing it back and forth to each other goes up," explained Dr. Travis Sims, an emergency medical physician at St. David's Round Rock Medical Center.
So blaming the cold weather for the flu is wrong, making the claim FALSE.
Claim 2: While everybody should be alert for flu-symptoms, doctors are most concerned with people over 65 years old and younger than five years old.
"Typically, if you're an otherwise healthy middle-aged person, you would typically fight off the flu symptoms pretty well on your own. The body's really good at doing that. The patient populations that we get a little more concerned about include the very young and the very old," said Dr. Sims.
That claim is TRUE.
Claim 3: Even though flu season began in early October, you still have time to get the shot.
According to both Dr. Sims and the CDC, that claim is TRUE.
"We're expecting several more weeks of flu season here, so go (get the shot)," explained Dr. Sims.
The CDC said as long as influenza viruses are circulating, it's beneficial to get the shot.
To learn more about flu prevention, click here.
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