Different influenza virus strains cause the common flu — an infectious disease prominent year after year. Influenza viruses target the nose, throat and lungs. The flu poses the greatest threat to young children, pregnant women, older adults and those with chronic diseases or weakened immune systems. People who don’t fit within these demographics can still become ill with the flu and pass it on to others they come in contact with.
- The Flu in Texas
- When Does the Flu Season Begin and End in Texas?
- 7 Tips to Prevent Winter Colds and Flu
- Use Mobile IV Medics to Alleviate Cold and Flu Symptoms
The flu spreads through droplets from an infected person’s nose and mouth up to a day before they even start to feel symptoms of illness. Hygiene practices like covering your nose and mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze and frequently washing your hands to avoid catching or spreading the flu are vital. But there are additional ways to protect your family from the flu this season in Texas.
The Flu in Texas
The Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) reported 8,846 deaths due to pneumonia and influenza for the 2019-2020 influenza season, including data from Sept. 29, 2019, to June 29, 2020. More than 70% of the flu-related deaths were people over the age of 65.
During this same period, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that the United States as a whole saw 38 million people become ill due to influenza with 400,000 flu-related hospital visits.
Texas Heat and the Flu
While some people may associate the flu with colder weather or Northern states, the influenza virus spreads regardless of temperature. The flu poses a problem to Texans despite the warmer winters. The flu is linked to cooler months because people often spend more time indoors and in close contact with others in the winter than they do in the summer. Texans still face increased flu rates in the winter because of more time spent indoors, even though the temperature is higher than in many other states.
Texas Flu Vaccinations
Texas ranks as the state with the 10th lowest flu vaccination rates, with 44.3% of the population receiving the vaccine according to a three-year analysis of CDC vaccination data. But the vaccination rates in Texas have been trending upwards since 2017. The national average flu vaccination rate is 47.6%, and Rhode Island ranks the highest, with 57.1% of the population receiving the vaccine.
The CDC urges everyone over the age of 6 months to get the flu vaccine and recommends you receive the vaccination before the end of October for the most protection. Over 100 national influenza centers are located worldwide to monitor the spread and infections of the influenza virus. The centers receive virus samples from people who have the flu and share the information with the World Health Organization (WHO) collaborating centers. Those centers work together to formulate an effective vaccine against the influenza virus’s primary strains.
When Does the Flu Season Begin and End in Texas?
The TDSHS states the nationally recognized flu reporting season starts at the beginning of October and concludes at the end of May. Past trends indicate that Texas’s flu season typically peaks January through February, but this can fluctuate. Previous years have had peaks start in October on the early end of the spectrum and March on the latter. The influenza virus persists throughout the year, but most cases happen in the late fall through early spring.
An analysis using six years of CDC flu data compared the amount of minimal, low, moderate and high flu outbreak weeks in February on a state-by-state basis. That month is historically considered the worst for the flu, and the analysis used weighted scores to emphasize high outbreak weeks.
The results show Texas had the most weeks of high flu activity out of all other states in the country. From 2013 to 2019, February in Texas had experienced 23 weeks of high flu activity, five weeks of moderate flu activity and only one week of low activity. No other state reported as many high flu activity weeks in February as Texas.
The CDC analyzed data going back from the 1982 to 1983 flu season through the 2017 to 2018 flu season and found flu activity peaked most often in February. December was the second-highest month for flu peaks, followed by January then March.
If historic trends remain the same, February might likely be the worst month for the flu in Texas.
7 Tips to Prevent Winter Colds and Flu
Winter colds also accompany the flu, but there are many steps you can take to bolster your immune system and stay healthy all year round.
Here are seven tips you can follow to help you and your family stay in good health:
- Get the flu vaccine: The number one thing you can do to protect yourself from the flu is to get vaccinated. The flu vaccine contains several different influenza virus strains, allowing your immune system to build up antibodies against the most common flu strains. It’s essential to receive the vaccine each year because the virus changes, and you can lose immunity.
- Wash your hands: You should wash your hands frequently to kill any germs you come into contact with, especially if you’ve spent time in public places. Our hands touch the same materials hundreds or even thousands of other people have also touched, so it’s vital to keep your hands clean. The CDC recommends washing for at least 20 seconds with running water and soap.
- Avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose: The primary way germs enter our bodies is through our mouths, eyes and noses. You should first wash your hands or use hand sanitizer if you must touch your face.
- Increase your vitamin D: Our bodies produce vitamin D through exposure to sunlight, and we produce less of it in the winter since we spend more time indoors, and the sunlight is weaker. Taking a vitamin D supplement may be helpful because it helps boost the immune system.
- Maintain a healthy diet: Eating a well-rounded diet full of fruits, vegetables, nuts and other unprocessed foods gives you the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to function well and keep you from falling sick.
- Sleep well: Sleeping is when our bodies work extra hard to heal themselves, and studies show you’re less likely to become sick if you’re well-rested. You should try to get into a consistent sleep routine and sleep for at least seven hours each night.
- Exercise regularly:Exercising reduces stress, increases the disease-fighting white blood cells’ flow and reduces inflammation. Those benefits can help boost your immunity and reduce your chances of getting the cold or flu.
Use Mobile IV Medics to Alleviate Cold and Flu Symptoms
The influenza virus infects millions of Americans each year, and Texans face an even greater risk. If you or a loved one become sick with a cold or the flu, we at Mobile IV Medics are here to help you. Our cold and flu IV drip provides vitamins to help boost your immune system, hydrate your body, increase your energy levels, reduce pains or aches and alleviate other symptoms!
Our registered nurses can show up at your door within an hour of you submitting a request online. Get fast relief with an IV from Mobile IV Medics that will help alleviate the symptoms you’re facing.
About the author
Brad Wenderoth, Pharm.D.
Brad Wenderoth, Pharm.D. is a licensed pharmacist and co-owner of Mobile IV Medics. With over 16 years of healthcare experience, Brad is bringing his expertise and passion for patient care to the Mobile IV Medics patient population. Prior to Mobile IV Medics, Brad worked in varying areas including both direct patient care and hospital leadership at Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, nationwide health system pharmacy consulting for Comprehensive Pharmacy Services (CPS), and professor of pharmacy at the USC School of Pharmacy. He holds a doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Arizona, a pharmacy practice residency from USC, and a lean six sigma green belt from Johns Hopkins.