Austin area clinics see uptick in flu cases

While the 2018-19 flu season has been less severe than the previous one, area health providers are encouraging residents to take precautions.

While the 2018-19 flu season has been less severe than the previous one, area health providers are encouraging residents to take precautions.

The total number of flu cases reported at Austin Regional Clinic locations throughout the Austin area doubled between the last week of January through the first week of February, marking one of the steepest upticks this season. By Feb. 2, ARC traced 840 total positive cases this season.

“It is generally a trend, post-holidays with everyone returning to work and kids going back to school for a few weeks to a month,” Dr. Sangeeta Jain of ARC said. “It starts to creep up and hit a critical mass, so to speak, and then it just flourishes.”

CommUnity Care Clinics, operated in Travis County in partnership with Central Health, also reported an uptick with a jump in total cases from 100 to 150 by Jan. 31. By the same date last year however, when the flu season was considered particularly severe by public health officials, CommUnity care had reported 300 cases.

While the recent rise in cases in the Austin area is not as extreme as last year, local health care providers are encouraging residents to get vaccinated if they have not already. Jain said the vaccine is still effective at this point of the flu season, and any potential side effects of the shot outweigh the symptoms of the flu.

“You can get 24 to 48 hours of mild body aches and possibly a low grade fever or discomfort but nothing like the intensity of the actual flu, and really it’s our best bet for prevention,” she said.

Editor's note: this post has been updated for clarity.
By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.


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