Austin, Texas – Flu season is starting to take its toll, with at least 9.7 million flu illnesses, 87,000 hospitalizations and 4,800 deaths from flu in the U.S., and Travis County is part of these alarming statistics.
Health officials are urging people to stay home if you experience mild flu-like symptoms and to visit your primary care provider, urgent care, pharmacy walk-in clinics or use telehealth services. If you have significant trouble breathing or other severe symptoms, you may need an emergency room. If you are unsure, talk with your doctor.
Mild flu symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, fatigue and headaches. If you experience more severe symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention. These severe symptoms are listed below:
Antiviral medications must be taken within the first 48 hours of symptom onset to be effective. Young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions are at increased risk for serious flu-related complications. These high-risk groups need to seek antiviral treatment early on.
“The health of our community depends on the actions of each individual person,” said Dr. Mark Escott, interim health authority and medical director for Austin Public Health. “Protect yourself, protect your loved ones and protect our community by taking preventative actions to minimize the impact of influenza.”
While flu activity is already high, significant activity can occur as late as May. It is not too late to get your flu vaccine, and people who get the flu vaccine and still get sick can expect a milder illness – and a lower risk of pneumonia, hospitalization or death.
Along with getting your flu shot, it is important to:
- Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face
- Cough and sneeze into a bent elbow
- Clean surfaces frequently
- Ask your medical provider for treatment for people in your household who have also been exposed to the virus and may be at increased risk to contract the flu