Health & Science

Galveston reports 900 flu cases, significantly higher than usual for October

Officials said the numbers typically seen this time of year are “enough you can count on one hand.”

Galveston is reporting a high number of flu cases already, according to local health officials. The city has seen 900 cases of the flu within the first two weeks of October.

Dr. Philip Keiser is the local health authority for Galveston County. He said the county does an annual flu surveillance program that starts in October.

The program gathers two weekly reports. One is influenza-like illnesses where participating doctors see cases that look like influenza, and once checked off, gets reported back to Keiser and his team.

The second report consists of positive flu tests, which gets added to the influenza-like illnesses.

"So, the 900 cases that we're talking about are simply the positive flu test. When we add up the influenza like illnesses, there's about 1,000 more each week, so the numbers really are very, very shocking," Keiser said.

Usually the numbers seen this time of year are typically "enough you can count on one hand," he said.

"Usually you see five, ten in a week of positive cultures and the influenza-like illnesses because not all of them are flu. You may see only 20, 30," he said.

Dr. Keiser said most people testing positive are adults.

Keiser said the high numbers could be a combination of COVID and weaker immune systems.

“I mean, I guess there are three possibilities. The number one is that people aren't taking the necessary precautions, I think that's a huge part of that," he said. "Because of that, people's immunity has waned. There's not that many people that have gotten the flu in the past couple of years. Just like COVID, if you don't get exposed to it, or you don't get a vaccine, your immunity wanes."

"The third thing, which I don't think is the case at this point, is that it could be a strain. That's much more transmissible, and of course, we could see that from time to time."

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