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Flu responses in Fort Worth are 3 times higher than they were last season, Medstar says

Fort Worth schools strive to minimize flu impact

Fort Worth school district nurses and administrators encourage healthy habits at home and at school to prevent outbreaks of influenza during the 2017-18 school year.
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Fort Worth school district nurses and administrators encourage healthy habits at home and at school to prevent outbreaks of influenza during the 2017-18 school year.

MedStar crews have already responded to three times as many patients with a clinical impression of flu-like illnesses as they did during the same period last year.

The 2017-2018 Influenza Season was the worst season since 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An estimated 80,000 people died, including more than 180 children and there were 30,453 influenza-related hospitalizations.

So could this season be worse?

MedStar crews have treated 226 patients with a primary or secondary clinical impression of influenza-like illness since Sept. 1, according to spokesman Matt Zavadsky. That’s compared to 44 people during the same period in 2017.

Overall flu activity remains low nationally, according to the weekly FluView Report released by the CDC. However, Texas has reported flu outbreaks and laboratory-confirmed flu in at least one but fewer than half of the regions of the state, the report says.

The average age of the 226 patients this year is 45. The youngest was 9 months old and the oldest is 94 years. Fifty-seven percent of the patients are female, Zavadsky said.

The highest prevalence ZIP code in MedStar’s service area is 76112 in far east Fort Worth. This includes the Handley, Bunch-Eglinton Club, Cookes Meadow, Ryan Wood, Eastern Hills and Woodhaven neighborhoods.

Between January and March, MedStar crews responded to more than 1,100 patients with flu-like illness.

“Hopefully, this trend will not continue, but we strongly encourage residents to seriously consider getting vaccinated for the flu,” Zavadsky said.

Three influenza-associated pediatric deaths nationwide have been reported for the 2018-19 season.

Many pharmacies offer a free flu vaccination with insurance including Target, CVS, Walgreens and supermarkets.

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Nichole Manna is an investigative reporter for the Star-Telegram. Before moving to Fort Worth in July 2018, she covered crime and breaking news in Tennessee, North Carolina, Nebraska and Kansas. She is a 2012 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and grew up in Florida.

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