Texas is one of 25 states reporting above average cases of flu-like illnesses this year compared to only 10 last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Nueces County is reporting double the number of flu-like illnesses so far this year compared to last year. The flu season generally runs through April, and an increasing number of flu-like illnesses is prompting more warnings from the City-County Health Department.
Charts from the Centers for Disease Control show all states on the continental U.S. are dealing with the flu. Texas is reporting above normal cases, with at least one death from flu-like symptoms reported so far in the Dallas area. Nueces County is reporting nearly double the number of flu like cases for the last full week of December compared to in 2012.
Health Department Nurse Practitioner Tammy Walker-Smith said it is not too late to get the vaccine.
"You can come and get the flu vaccine from the Health Department," Walker-Smith said. "We do have plenty available. We encourage you to come and get it because that is one of the key prevention steps that you can do as a community to get the vaccine. Takes about two weeks to get the immunity in your system, but to do it now is better than to not do it at all."
Walker-Smith said that with at least three months to go in this flu season, getting the shot may be a good idea.
Dr. Jaime Fergie, an infectious disease specialist with Driscoll Children's Hospital, said the symptoms can be easy to spot.
"Fever. When you have fever, particularly the younger you are, the more concerning fever is," Fergie said. "If you're talking about a little baby with fever, you need to talk to your doctor right away about that; but then of course, you're going to have cough, congestion, runny nose, and in children, sometimes you have vomiting and diarrhea."
The flu starts with a high fever that lasts at least three days and features symptoms of achiness and extreme fatigue. The best advice for avoiding a cold or flu, besides the flu vaccine, is for you and your family to wash your hands several times a day.