More than 4,000 people have had the flu in Texas so far

AUSTIN (KXAN) -- Flu season hit Texas early this year, and the number of cases across the state increased again this week.

The flu is considered to be widespread in Texas, according to the Department of State Health Services. Hospital laboratories across Texas that voluntarily report influenza tests found 777 people were positive for influenza the week of Dec. 17-23. Public health laboratories found 48 positive specimens. Since the flu season started in October, 4,201 people have tested positive for the flu in these laboratories -- but the number is likely higher because most influenza cases are not required to be reported. Most of those who got sick had the Influenza A strain.

Hays County reported as of Friday, 244 people tested positive for the virus in December alone. Last year, only 15 residents there had the flu. It says it expects even higher numbers as the typical peak of flu season arrives in January and February. Only the Flu A strain has been found in Hays County, but both strains A and B have been reported in Travis County.

The flu can be dangerous and even deadly for children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, so it's important that they especially get the flu shot, although it's a good idea for everyone to get it to help prevent the spread. Hays County Epidemiologist Eric Schnieder says people can also take these steps to keep illness at bay:

  • Regularly wash hands with warm water and soap
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Stay home from work or school if you feel sick

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