Texas seeing some of highest levels of flu activity in country

H1N1 is the most common strain

HOUSTON - Health officials in Montgomery County report that a ninth patient has come forward with flu-like symptoms similar to eight other cases reported earlier this week.

Of those nine, tests have confirmed two were infected with H1N1, the predominant flu strain being seen statewide.

According to the Centers for Disease Control's latest surveillance, Texas is seeing some of the highest levels of flu activity in the country. H1N1 is the most common strain. Dr. Herbert L. DuPont with the University of Texas School of Public Health said its severity among young people makes H1N1 unique.

"All ages should get immunizations; not just the high risk population, not just the old people, but young, healthy people that typically don't think about the flu being a problem with them," said Dr. DuPont.

The increase in flu activity comes during the peak travel time before Christmas and DuPont said flu activity will likely continue to rise as people move about. DuPont said people suffering from flu-like symptoms should avoid flying not only to keep other passengers from getting sick, but also because changes in air pressure could cause sinus complications.

"If you want to stay healthy, do two things: stay more than six feet away from people coughing and consider your hands contaminated when you touch things," said DuPont.

DuPont said this year's flu vaccine does protect against H1N1.

"It takes about 14 days to get immunity. Still, in Houston, we are exposed to flu viruses from October through April," said DuPont.

Public health officials in Houston told Local 2 they are seeing a slight increase in flu activity, but because hospitals aren't required to report flu cases or deaths, they aren't able to provide a concrete number of cases.

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