Austin Area Sees Jump In Flu Cases

Nov 13, 2019

The Austin area has been seeing an increase in the number of flu cases in recent weeks.

"Between the first week of October and the first week of November, we've seen about a 500% increase in positive tests for flu," Dr. Mark Escott, medical director for Austin Public Health, said.

The numbers are in line with what the area saw in the last couple of flu seasons – and that may be cause for concern. The 2017-2018 season was a bad one, with a larger than normal number of flu deaths across the United States. 

"We're not quite sure what the impact is going to be overall this flu season," Escott said, "but we do have concerns based upon the experience in the Southern Hemisphere, particularly in Australia, which had record numbers of flu cases and flu deaths this year." 

He said the better news is that the strain seen here the most is not the one causing problems in that area of the world.

"We're seeing two primary strains in the United States," Escott said. "One is H3N2, which is predominant across the U.S., which is the same strain that burdened Australia this summer. In Texas and in Travis County, so far we're seeing primarily influenza B, but also some of that H3N2."

Escott said it's a good time to get the flu vaccine, because flu season typically doesn't peak around here until January.