Chances are you or someone you know has been sick this winter with the flu or a flu-like illness.

Hamilton Healthcare System reports 234 patients tested positive for Influenza A, and 30 patients that tested positive for Influenza B, during the month of December. This includes patients seen at all three rural health clinics located in Hamilton, Hico and Goldthwaite as well as patients seen at Hamilton General Hospital. 

The flu has been reported widely across Texas for the last few weeks, and the Texas Department of Health Services encourages people to do everything they can to prevent the its spread. Everyone should wash their hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes and stay home when sick.

People who have the flu feel some or all of these signs and symptoms that usually start suddenly, not gradually: Fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue (very tired).

Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in young children than in adults. It is important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.

You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Although people with the flu are most contagious in the first three or four days after their illness begins,  some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning a day before symptoms develop and five to seven days after becoming sick.

Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might infect others with flu viruses for an even longer time.

Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age, but some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease), pregnant women and young children.

It is not too late to get vaccinated. The flu vaccine is made up of strains similar to ones currently circulating in North America, and vaccination provides the best protection against contracting the flu.

Vaccination is especially important for people with chronic health conditions and weaker immune systems and their caregivers.

It is important to see a healthcare provider as soon as symptoms begin. Prescription antiviral medication may lessen the severity of the illness.

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The Hamilton Herald-News
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Hamilton, TX 76531

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