KXAN, Flu Cases Double

It’s Not Too Late to Get a Flu Shot, Says Dr. Chang

In a single week, the number of Austin Regional Clinic patient testing positive for influenza doubled – from 220 cases Jan. 6-12 to 431 Jan. 13-19, KXAN-TV reported Wednesday.

While it’s still too early to make predictions about this year’s flu season, Dr. Christopher Changfamily medicine physician at ARC’s Far West clinic, warned that the number of Central Texas cases will likely continue to climb.

ARC’s Katie Castle, RN, also was interviewed for the story because she knows exactly what her influenza patients are experiencing. Last year, what “started with a little tickle” in her throat turned into a “horrible seven days where I felt like I was completely drained of my energy.”

Tamiflu Warning

Dr. Chang warned KXAN viewers, if they think they have the flu, not to jump right away to taking Tamiflu. The popular medicine is effective only in the first 48 hours of illness, he noted.

“After that point, the flu virus, it’s in your system,” he said. “It’s already doing what it’s going to do. Tamiflu isn’t going to help block that infection from hitting your system.”

Also, routinely using Tamiflu can reduce the effectiveness of the medicine for treating flu.

“Every year, the flu virus changes, so every time we use Tamiflu in somebody who doesn’t really need it, there’s a chance it’ll increase the risk of resistance from future flu cases,” Dr. Chang warned.

Preventative Steps

The KXAN story notes routine ways that Central Texans can avoid getting and spreading the flu: cover your cough, stay home if you’re sick and wash your hands frequently.

The best step is to get a flu vaccine that protects against the virus, or at least alleviates its impact. KXAN cited U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) studies that show vaccination reduces:

  • Children’s risk of dying;
  • Admissions to hospital intensive care units (ICUs);
  • The length of ICU stays; and
  • Hospitalizations.

See the complete interview on KXAN-TV.

Suffering from flu-like symptoms and want to be tested? Book an appointment with an Austin Regional Clinic physician.

Tags: Dr. Christopher Chang, Flu shot, Influenza, flu, Tamiflu, vaccine