Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report more than 22 million flu illnesses, 13 positive novel coronavirus cases in US
The novel coronavirus was first reported on Dec. 31, 2019, in
Wuhan, China. Chinese health officials reported thousands of
infections all around China, with the virus reportedly spreading
from people to people in many parts of the country. As reported
cases have increased, fear of the novel coronavirus has spread internationally. However, in East Texas and the rest of America the influenza poses a greater risk than the coronavirus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
“coronaviruses are a large family of virus common in humans
and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle,
cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people
and then spread between people,” such as the current novel
Dr. Tiffany Hill, a pediatrician at UT Health East Texas,
provided insight into the presence of both the flu and the
coronavirus in the U.S.
“We have more to worry about with the flu than the
coronavirus,” Hill said.
The CDC has reported more than 22 million influenza
illnesses from Oct. 1, 2019, to Feb. 1 of this year with between
12,000 and 30,000 deaths.
Flu activity is high in the U.S., and is expected to continue
for weeks. As of Feb. 11, nearly 33% of specimens sent for
analysis in Texas have tested positive for influenza, according
to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. This
means nearly a third of individuals who have presented flu-like
symptoms have tested positive. “Because the flu is more contagious
and deadly, coronavirus is not as threatening,” Hill said. “Here in
Texas and especially East Texas, people need to worry more about the
flu than the new virus, unless they have come into anyone from Wuhan, China.”
The first confirmed instance of coronavirus infection in the U.S. was reported on Jan. 30. The CDC has reported 13 positive cases of the novel coronavirus in the U.S.; however, there have been no positive cases in Texas.
According to Hill, both the influenza and the coronavirus cause upper respiratory infection. Symptoms for both are similar: fever, cough, body aches, congestion and runny nose.
The CDC recommends everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine. Approximately 173 million doses of the flu vaccine have been distributed. People who are at risk of serious flu illness should take the appropriate medication quickly if they are sick.
Hill provided some tips to avoid getting the flu: “Get vaccinated; wash your hands; cough in the bend of the elbow and try to avoid other sick contacts.”
The CDC reports children under the age of five as well as the elderly are more vulnerable to contract the flu because of their weak immune systems. At the age of six months, parents can have their children vaccinated.
According to Hill, the flu season runs from October through March with spikes in December, January, February and March. Last year, the season started in October, but had cases in April and May.
At the TJC campus clinic, students can get a free flu shot if they have a current student ID.