Texas tops the nation in active flu cases

If you’re battling the flu, you’re not alone. The number of cases is on the rise across the state and in North Texas.

In fact, Texas is ranked No. 1 in the nation for flu activity according to the latest report from Walgreens. Arkansas, Tennessee and West Virginia follow.

Within the state, East Texas has the most cases this week. The Dallas-Fort Worth area ranks seventh in the state.

Places like stand-alone emergency rooms, doctor’s offices and clinics across North Texas have been busy with sick people. Most coming in are diagnosed with the flu. Some of the symptoms are a headache, fatigue, chills, high fever and muscle pain.

Dr. Robert Phelan is the owner of Highland Park 24-Hour Emergency Room. Last week, his office had 26 confirmed cases of the flu. He expects those numbers to stay consistent.

“Fevers, chills. It will start off as a regular cold. But really, you'll feel much worse… body aches, nausea, possibly vomiting, diarrhea,” he explained. “We've been a lot busier. Our numbers have increased about ten a day in the past week.”

Tammara Scroggins is a registered nurse with Dallas County Health and Human Services. She says the three people who have died from the flu in Dallas County were older and had underlying health problems.

“Right now is the time to do your preventative actions, definitely cough etiquette and stay at home if you have the flu.”

To help prevent the spread, they recommend you cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands and keep them away from your face, avoid contact with people who are coughing or who appear sick and stay home when you start to feel sick.

Scroggins wants to remind folks that the flu doesn't discriminate and recommends everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine. It's not foolproof, but she says it can help minimize symptoms.

“Flu deaths can be avoided with prevention. Number one: flu vaccine,” she explained. “Receiving that flu vaccination helps to protect those around you as well as yourself and those with high-risk complications.”

Health officials say it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to develop antibodies, so now is the time to get the flu shot.