Fort Worth

Don’t let your guard down — the flu is coming back. Here’s how to protect yourself

Just a few weeks ago, there was hope that this flu season was quietly fading away.

Not now.

Flu cases are once again surging across Tarrant County and the State of Texas.

“We’re definitely going to have a second peak to this season — I just don’t know if it will go higher than what we saw at the end of December and early January,” said Russ Jones, chief epidemiologist at Tarrant County Public Health.

The percentage of patients seen with influenza-like illness in Tarrant County increased from 4.3 percent during the last week of January to 5 percent during the week that ended Feb. 2. That’s still less than the 7.9 percent seen at the first of the year.

If you’re looking for a glimmer of good news, that’s nowhere close to the peak for flu-like illnesses seen last season when it reached 12.89 percent.

Cook Children’s Medical Center has also seen flu cases climb again.

There were 264 cases of influenza A and two of influenza B between Feb. 3 and Feb. 9. From Jan. 27 to Feb. 2, there were 191 cases of Flu A and two of Flu B.

Texas Health Resources hospital emergency departments also saw a jump in the number of flu-like visits between Feb. 2 – 6. On Feb. 5, Texas Health’s emergency departments saw its highest totals of the week with 191 patients with flu-like symptoms.

Statewide, the flu is considered widespread. In the latest report, 8.59 percent of visits to clinics and emergency rooms were due to influenza-like illnesses — that’s up from 6.99 percent the previous week.

There have been four pediatric flu deaths statewide this season but none in Tarrant County.

The best advice to prevent getting the flu — get a flu shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And if you’re sick, stay home so you don’t infect others.

“The last three years we’ve had flu activity throughout February. There’s no reason to think it won’t last into March,” Jones said.

Nationally, flu is widespread across the entire U.S. with the exception of West Virginia, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Alaska and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the CDC said.

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Bill Hanna is an award-winning reporter who has covered just about every beat at the Star-Telegram. He currently covers Arlington but also writes about a variety of subjects including weather, wildlife, traffic and health.