Dr. Thomas Murphy is the chief medical officer for the UT Physicians community-based clinics and runs the Bayshore clinic in Clear Lake.
He says in a typical year about four to five percent of patients in the month of January have flu-like symptoms.
“Now this year we’re seeing anywhere between 14 and 15 percent of all the folks that we see are coming in with flu-like illnesses. So it’s at least a three-fold increase from last year.”
Murphy says they started seeing flu cases back in October, much earlier than normal.
The infections haven’t been confined to a particular group — he’s seen patients from the age of 5 into the 80s and 90s with the flu.
Most of them haven’t had the flu shot.
So many patients are showing up that his clinic has had to add an additional staff person and extend office hours.
“We’ve actually essentially cut back on people’s leave and vacations and asked them not to take vacations until this is over.”
Murphy says there haven’t been any flu-related deaths in his area, but several of his patients have developed pneumonia and been hospitalized from the flu.