Flu outbreak: Thousands sick, several deaths reported

Flu outbreak: Thousands sick, several deaths reported

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The party hats are off and people around the country are getting settled into the swing of 2014, but with a new year, comes the flu season and this year is expected to pack a harder punch, filled with fevers, body aches and chills.

"About eight percent of the outpatient visits have been related to influenza-like illness," said Dr. Phil Huang of the Travis County Health Department.
       
Doctors say H1N1 is the most prevalent strain that will make you sick this year.  That's the same strain that caused the 2009 swine flu pandemic.
       
"There is H1N1 in every vaccine available this year so you should be protected if you get vaccinated from the flu strain we're seeing right now," said Dr. Barbara Pierce of the College Station Medical Center.

The CDC is reporting widespread flu outbreaks mainly in the northeast, in states such as New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, but plenty of cases have been reported in the south - in Texas, Alabama, and Louisiana.

With high numbers of hospitalizations already, doctors say the worst is yet to come.

"Typically the flu season doesn't peak until late January early February," said Dr. Ross Tobleman of Scott and White Memorial Hospital.

But it's not too late to get yourself vaccinated, which is the number one suggestion for flu prevention.

"Every healthcare provider typically will have the flu shot but  there is some availability so call before you go," said Tobleman.

And as always, good hygienic practices, such as washing your hands or covering your mouth when you cough will lower your risk of contracting the virus.  

"Avoiding people who are sick, in areas where you know someone is sick, you don't want to put yourself there because that's how the virus spreads," said Dr. David Grossman of the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department.

Doctors say young children and those ages 30 to 50 are most at risk. So far, pharmacies are reporting full supplies of the vaccine.

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