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When It Comes To The Flu, Texas Leads The Country -- And It's Getting Worse

As we enter influenza season, the flu is hitting Texas hardest, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Its website shows that levels of the illness are higher in Texas and Mississippi than all other states. That’s as of the latest report from the last week of November.

Dr. Anne Shuchat with the National Center for Immunizations says there have been three pediatric deaths due to flu already this year.

The Texas Department of State Health Services says flu activity is “high” and above baseline levels. The latest data shows the number of positive flu tests jumped 3.5 percent in a week.   

As of the last week of November, there were reports of confirmed flu cases in both Dallas and Tarrant counties.

A Centers for Disease Control report released today shows that flu shots last year prevented an estimated 6 million cases and 79,000 hospitalizations.

Dr. Shuchat says it’s important to get vaccinated because the flu is picking up steam.    

“We really don’t know what this flu season will be like because most years, in 90 percent of years, the flu peaks between January and March,” she said.

Reports of flu-like illnesses in the Dallas area are on the upswing, The Dallas Morning News reports. Twelve Dallas County residents were hospitalized with flu complications in the week ending Nov. 30. And more flu cases were confirmed by lab tests.

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.
Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.