An outbreak of the H1N1 Flu virus has given cause for concern to the Denton County Health Department.
Health officials report 265 cases of influenza for the week of Dec. 28 alone, the highest weekly count so far this season.
The most prominent strain is H1N1, which is affecting young and middle-aged adults this year more than the typical seasonal flu.
DCHD Public Information Officer Sarah McKinney said that, fortunately, there have been no fatalities as a result of the virus, but added that it is still a serious issue.
“It’s definitely a concern,” McKinney said. “We want more people to come in and get their vaccinations and protect themselves. We think that with the ice and bad weather we have had this year, it may have put it out of people’s minds to go and get a flu shot.”
McKinney said the best thing a person can do to avoid the H1N1 is to get vaccinated, which both the Denton and Lewisville facilities are still offering free of charge, but said that other precautions can be taken to help avoid getting sick as well.
“We always encourage people to wash their hands often,” McKinney said. “Use soap and water or hand sanitizer if you can’t wash your hands. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, because you are spreading germs that way. Another big one is to stay home when you feel sick and to keep your kids home when they are sick. This is not only for work and school, but also for public places.”
If a person already has the flu, McKinney said there are ways of shortening its duration by using such products as Tamiflu and other medications.
McKinney said there are a couple of ways people can differentiate between the flu and a cold.
“In general, the flu is a lot more severe,” McKinney said. “You are going to have fever, body aches, fatigue and cough. Everything is just a lot more intense. With a cold, you are more likely to have runny or stuffy noses.”
The Lewisville DCHD is located at 190 N. Valley Pkwy. St. 203 in Lewisville and the Denton DCHD location is at S. Loop 288 in Denton.
McKinney said that one of the most important reasons to get a flu shot or take preventative measures is that the flu can lead more serious, and sometimes life threatening complications, such as pneumonia, bronchitis and worsened chronic conditions, such as Asthma.
“It can be a very serious issue,” McKinney said. “Even for young folks.”