According to health officials, influenza cases are widespread across Houston as well as the entire state. The Centers for Disease Control has reported that most cases are strains of Influenza A. The most prevalent has been the H3N2 type which, according to Kathy Barton of the City of Houston Health Department, has produced severe cases of influenza in the Houston area.
Clear nasal secretions with some congestion and a sore throat may be only a cold but respiratory difficulty, irritability, dehydration, fever, chills, rash, cough, aches and fatigue indicate influenza.
Flu complications occur most commonly in the elderly, young children, and those with a compromised immune system or other health problems such as asthma or diabetes. These individuals should seek professional treatment at the first sign of flu symptoms. According to the City of Houston website, the CDC received reports that 276 children died from flu-related complications during the 2009-10 flu season.
Special note: Children under the age of 19 should not take aspirin. Children under the age of 4 should not take over-the-counter cough medicines.
CDC officials believe that the flu virus can be spread up to 6 feet away by droplet infection through coughing, sneezing, or talking. Symptoms appear from 1 to 4 days after exposure, and flu can sometimes be contagious whether or not symptoms are present. Frequent hand washing and avoidance of close quarters such as crowded elevators can help prevent the spread of flu. Children should not attend school with flu symptoms and should not return until free of fever for 24 hours after taking fever-reducing medications.
To prevent flu, the flu vaccines must be matched to the strains that are causing illness. Though the strains most commonly seen this season can be serious, the vast majority are reported to be covered by current flu shots.