HOUSTON — Flu cases are spiking earlier than usual in Houston, according to doctors.
But Houston isn't the city being impacted by a rise in flu cases. Walgreens said flu activity nationwide is 10 times higher than in 2021, more than doubling over the previous two weeks.
The latest CDC data shows high activity in 11 states, including Texas.
“We’re already seeing the numbers that we typically see in December or January, which are kind of our influenza peaks,” said Dr. Luis Ostrosky, an infectious disease specialist with UTHealth Houston and Memorial Hermann.
Dr. Ostrosky said 5% of primary care visits are due to influenza-like illnesses.
“We are seeing some cases being hospitalized now but not to a point that we’re needing to worry about capacity or any sort of crisis mode,” he said.
Dr. Ostrosky believes there are several reasons for the higher numbers.
“We are coming off of the pandemic,” he said. “Everybody’s done with masks. Everybody’s done with being careful being indoors, etc. There’s this kind of need to congregate and do things together.”
The doctor also believes that’s a factor in the uptick in other viral infections like RSV, a common respiratory virus that can be dangerous for young kids.
“It’s been a pretty bad experience,” one man told the CBS affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth of his child’s hospitalization with RSV.
The virus has seen an early surge across Texas.
CBS reports a trio of viruses – RSV, COVID, and the flu – are filling hospitals to capacity in other parts of the country.
“We're certainly worried as we continue to move indoors, the weather gets colder,” said Dr. David Agus, CBS News Medical Contributor. “These three viruses are going to tick upward. What's interesting is almost all the hospitalizations now are influenza and RSV."
Dr. Ostrosky recommends masking indoors, washing hands, and getting a flu vaccine.
“We’re starting to get data from the southern hemisphere, Chile, showing that it’s a really good match this year,” he said.
He also recommends people who are sick stay home and try to get diagnosed as soon as possible so they can get the right medications to reduce the severity of the illness.