TYLER, TX (KLTV) -For the past 10 years, the week of February 4 has come with a rise in flu cases across East Texas, according to Texas Health and Human Services.
“It’s kind of the geographic and social trends of East Texas,” says Russell Hopkins, with the North East Texas Public Health district. “The numbers tend to rise in the east first and then sweep across the country from right to left.”
That trend explains why Walgreen’s most recent flu index ranks East Texas as the number one area for flu activity, meaning that more residents here were treated for the flu last week than anywhere else across the country. The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex came in second.
"Flu and pneumonia is a problem in East Texas because we are generally older and sicker or at least less healthy then the rest of the state,” says Hopkins.
It’s such a problem that in recent months a higher percentage of East Texans have died from the virus than those living in other areas of the state. Hopkins says there is good news: it’s not too late to get a vaccine.
“Recognize the fact, though, it takes 10-12 days for your immune system to become its strongest to fight off that flu,” says Hopkins. “Get them as quick as you can.”
Hopkins adds that the most prevalent type of the virus affecting Texans right now is Flu A or H3N2 and it is covered by the current vaccine.