Houston-area ERs See Heavy Volume of Flu Patients

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Houston area hospitals are seeing a heavier-than-usual volume of flu and other respiratory problems. The best solution remains the same — getting your flu shot.

There are no actual numbers, but emergency room doctors in Houston are noticing many more people testing "flu positive," compared to previous years. Dr. Jeff Kalina is with The Methodist Hospital.

"Yeah, it's the highest we've seen in years, reminiscent back to the flu season of around six, seven years ago."

That's when there was a national shortage of the vaccine needed for that year's strain. But the vaccine available this year is a good match for the strains now circulating.

"This year is actually very well matched up to the Influenza A Strain that we're seeing. But either folks — most of the folks that we're seeing getting it — have not gotten the vaccine, or they got the vaccine really early and perhaps some of their immunity to that virus is running slim."

But for everyone six months of age or older ...

"The number one thing you can do is the vaccine. You have to get, we have to get rid of the misrepresentation or feeling out there that people have that you can get flu from the vaccine. It's just not possible."

Dr. Kalina says some people come in thinking a stomach problem is the beginning of the flu. 

"Another misconception is that the flu is a stomach or gastro-intestinal problem. It is a respiratory illness. It is fever — rapid onset of fever — a bad cough and bad muscle aches. And that's what the flu is."

Flu season usually peaks in late January or early February.

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Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...