HOUSTON (FOX 26) - With four flu-related deaths already reported in Harris County, the fear is that the amount will only increase as we’re still months away from flu season ending.
We know it started earlier than normal for us and we learned on Friday that 37 children throughout the U.S. have now died from the flu
"This is a busier flu season, no doubt about it,” said Dr. Umair A. Shah, executive director for Harris County Public Health.
Every age group seems to be a target in 2018. Emergency room visits in Houston are still at an elevated rate, with nearly 2,000 per week by patients experiencing flu-like symptoms.
A woman died from the flu in Galveston, marking the first flu-related death in Galveston County.
“There is a good 4, 5, 6 months that may still be ahead of us here," warned Dr. Shah.
The tricky thing about adult flu-related deaths is that doctors, by law, do not have to report those to the local health department. It’s voluntary. Not the case for children, however, as those must be documented.
“Get them to sleep early, wash their hands, eat their fruits and vegetables and hopefully, their immune system fights it off," said Britni Schmalz, a mother of three children. "You can’t protect them from everything,"
While children are at risk, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says anyone older than 65 are visiting hospitals the most during this flu season.
“A couple weeks we were actually in the top five, in terms of communities with flu activity, across the country," said Dr. Shah about Harris County. "Texas has been very busy."
With no signs of it slowing down, Dr. Shah reminded us what to do.
"Wash your hands, make sure you cover your cough, make sure you stay home if you’re sick, and certainly get your flu shot, and we want people to boost their immune system as much as possible,” said Dr. Shah.
One way to boost that immune system is to be active. Dr. Shah also said the cooler weather hasn’t helped things and Harvey displaced many people, forcing them to live in close quarters — leading to the flu being spread easier.