With influenza "now widespread" across Texas, the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has issued flu testing and treatment guidance for Texas physicians. More than 80 percent of the confirmed cases have been of the H1N1 subtype.
DSHS Commissioner David Lakey, MD, also reminded Texans that it's not too late to get a flu shot. "Flu can be deadly," Dr. Lakey said. "People who have not been vaccinated should do so now. It's the best defense we have."
He added that protection from the 2009 pandemic H1N1 subtype is included in this year's influenza vaccine.
Dr. Lakey advised physicians to consider antiviral treatment even for patients whose initial rapid-flu test is negative. "When there is clinical suspicion of influenza and antiviral treatment is indicated, antiviral treatment should be started as soon as possible, even if the result of the RIDT is negative, without waiting for results of additional influenza testing," he said.
The commissioner added that neither novel influenza cases nor antiviral resistant influenza strains have been reported in Texas.
"All Texas regions have reported laboratory-confirmed influenza," Dr. Lakey said. "Over 90 percent of positive influenza tests reported from Texas laboratories have been typed as influenza A. Of those influenza A viruses that have been subtyped, 90 percent have been the 2009 pandemic H1N1 subtype."
According to media reports in mid-December, public health officials in the Houston area had confirmed that six people had died from H1N1 in the region. That includes four deaths at Conroe Regional Medical Center in Montgomery County. An additional death from H1N1 was reported in Travis County.
Action, Jan. 3, 2014