Although the new coronavirus outbreak that began in China has grabbed headlines recently, physicians should remind their patients that influenza continues to be a major concern in Texas.
Since September, 13 Texas children have died of flu-related illnesses, the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) said. Across the state, 1,408 cases of flu-like illness were reported in the week that ended Jan. 18.
Meanwhile, no cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in Texas, health officials have said.
Physicians should recommend their patients take the usual precautions to avoid spreading viruses, including receiving a flu shot, DSHS officials said in a conference call Friday.
“The message to patients should be the same for avoiding influenza or other [germs] that are circulating this time of year: Wash your hands before touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, avoid contact with sick individuals, cover your coughs and sneezes, and stay home if you are sick,” said Jennifer A. Shuford, MD, DSHS infectious disease medical officer.
You can find more tools and resources to help you and your patients prevent flu as well as the novel coronavirus on the DSHS website.
As always, TMA’s website has plenty of information on infectious diseases such as influenza.
And if you’re looking for more ways to keep your community healthy, apply for a grant from TMA’s Be Wise – ImmunizeSM program, in which physicians, TMA Alliance volunteers, and medical student chapters provide flu shots at no cost to uninsured and underinsured Texans in their hometowns.