Flu Comeback? Doctors See A Spike in Bug

The flu appears to be back in Houston after being a virtual no-show this past fall. Doctors at the Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center report a spike in emergency room cases since Christmas. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports.

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Dr. Jeff Kolina is the associate medical director of the emergency department at The Methodist Hospital and says hospitals pretty much missed the influenza A peak late last year, but are starting to make up for it now with influenza B.

"Maybe now it's just relative because we're seeing more flu than we've seen in years past and maybe it's a bad flu season, but I don't think it's a terrible flu season, but we're seeing a peak and it's just an unusual time of year to see it. We didn't see it at all in October and November and suddenly over the Christmas holiday, it started getting busy."ξ

Kolina says the weather really has nothing to do with the flu and that colder temperatures don't cause an increase in the virus. He says flu vaccines are still effective this time of year.

"It really isn't too late to go ahead with the flu vaccine because quite frankly even though this is the time of year we start seeing influenza B, it doesn't mean that influenza A is gone. It just means we see much more B now than we see of A. So there's a chance if you get the vaccine it's still going to help you against the A and it might even have some immunity against some of the B."ξξξ

Kolina says Houston hasn't seen a bad flu season in three or four years. He says just like your mother told you, the best way to avoid the flu bug is to wash your hands and use what he calls good flu hygiene.ξ

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