Doctors warn flu season has not yet peaked as flu type rates switch prominence

Austin Regional Clinic has observed an increasing number of total number of flu cases since the beginning of 2020. (Courtesy Flickr)
Austin Regional Clinic has observed an increasing number of total number of flu cases since the beginning of 2020. (Courtesy Flickr)

Austin Regional Clinic has observed an increasing number of total number of flu cases since the beginning of 2020. (Courtesy Flickr)

Local doctors continue to caution residents to get vaccinated against the flu as confirmed cases of both types of the flu have yet to peak, according to Austin Regional Clinic data.

The week ending Jan. 25 produced the highest number of confirmed cases of flu type A at ARC locations. Through the end of December, ARC was recording higher rates of flu type B over flu type A.


Since the beginning of January, however, ARC has observed higher rates of flu type A than flu type B. The total number of flu cases overall has continued to climb since the beginning of the new year as well.

“We haven’t seen the peak of the season yet,” said Dr. Daniel Kelly, the associate chief of family medicine at ARC. “I’m still recommending to my parents to get vaccinated.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are two types of the flu virus: type A and type B. Kelly said while flu type B typically peaks later into the flu season, the strain came early this year.



“Typically, their rates of incidence do not ... rise and fall at the exact same time,” Kelly said. “One person could get flu A and flu B in the same season.”

Flu type A generally causes more severe symptoms, Kelly said, and usually comes with pronounced headaches, fever and body aches. This strain generally has a greater potential to be fatal for some patients than flu type B, Kelly said.

Further, flu type B viruses can only be spread from human to human, while flu type A can be transmitted through other animals. According to the CDC, flu type A viruses can be found in several different animals, including ducks, chickens, pigs, whales, horses and seals.

If someone received a flu vaccine earlier in the season they will be covered against both strains of the flu virus, Kelly said. While the vaccine does not guarantee a person will not get the flu, a shot greatly decreases the risk of contracting the virus.

Kelly told Community Impact Newspaper that this year’s flu season is stacking up to compare to the 2017-18 and 2018-19 flu seasons. Both of those seasons saw a higher-than-usual fatality rate than other flu seasons in recent years, Kelly said. CDC data shows that most of the deaths attributed to the flu those years happened to patients aged 65 years or older.

According to the CDC, more patients have been hospitalized already this season than during the entirety of the 2011-12 flu season. The flu season runs from October to May, according to the CDC.

CDC estimates show that from Oct. 1, 2019 to Jan. 18, 2020, at least 8,200 deaths—and up to 20,000 deaths—have been attributed to the flu nationwide.

“By the end of the year the flu deaths are going to be much higher,” Kelly said. “It is too early in the season to say flu B is done for the year. Anything could happen.”




By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.


MOST RECENT

Screen shot of Dr. Desmar Walkes speaking
Austin ICUs remain crowded with COVID-19 patients, delaying some critical care

Within the past week, there was a waiting list of patients to be transferred into Austin-area ICUs, Austin Public Health leaders said.

The city of Austin this summer cleared four unregulated homeless encampments and shifted dozens of residents into shelters. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Plan to house thousands of Austin's homeless people taking shape, but outlook for local success, project funding still unclear

The strategy's first housing benchmark fell short in June, and updates on how the estimated $515 million needed for housing and services will be spent are overdue.

 Busy Nurse's Station In Modern Hospital
Williamson County seeking input on community health needs

The Williamson County and Cities Health District is holding two focus group sessions through September with the goal of collecting public feedback on community health needs throughout the county.

graphic
DATA: How population changed in Texas counties between census counts in 2010, 2020

Texas added nearly four million people between 2010 and 2020, according to the latest Census data.

Dream Bakery
Wells Branch cake expert Dream Bakery celebrates 5-year anniversary

Dream Bakery specializes in custom cakes and gluten free baked goods.

The widening project is on track to finish this fall and the bypass project by early next year. (Courtesy Texas Department of Transportation)
TxDOT projects near RM 2222 and RM 620 intersection approaching completion after delay

The southbound bypass lane connecting the two roads is on track to be complete later this fall, weather permitting. The northbound bypass lane opened over the summer.

Barkin' Creek Domain Northside
Barkin’ Creek sets up shop in Domain Northside

The dog spa and pet supply store offers bath and grooming services alongside its signature homemade dog food.

New homes in North Austin
Northwest Austin housing market continues to cool after early summer peak

The median price of homes in Northwest Austin dropped by more than 7% from its summer peak in June.

The Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission considered a finalized draft of an updated map for Austin's 10 City Council districts Sept. 15. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
UPDATED: Draft map of Austin's redrawn City Council boundaries ready for community review

Volunteer city redistricting commissioners have unanimously passed an initial outline to update all 10 City Council districts set to go into effect next year.

Photo of a sign in a field
3 weeks before first weekend, ACL Music Festival awaits permit, final health and safety procedures

Austin City Limits Music Festival has not yet received a permit for its multiweekend music festival, but the city of Austin said this is a normal timeline.

A Texas Education Agency Monitor has been installed at Round Rock ISD as part of a corrective action plan stemming from a complaint lodged against the board during the 2018-19 school year. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)
TEA installs monitor for Round Rock ISD, citing 2019 complaint against former board president

A Texas Education Agency Monitor has been installed at Round Rock ISD as part of a corrective action plan stemming from a complaint lodged against the board during the 2018-19 school year. 

The Austin Transit Partnership approved a $312.8 million budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. (Benton Graham/Community Impact)
Project Connect’s $312.8M budget receives approval for FY 2021-22

The budget will largely be spent on advancing the 30% designs for the Orange and Blue MetroRail lines.