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Flu outbreak in the Big Country

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) - Flu season is hitting the Big Country early.  Hendrick regional lab is reporting 200 cases of the illness just last week and experts are thinking this flu season could be worst than the last because the peak is about a month early.

"Last week we had almost 200 confirmed positive cases of influenza in our region," Hendrick Health Center Infection Preventionist, Beth Lantrip said.

Compared to the 600 total confirmed cases in all of last flu season, there have already been 450 cases reported this season.

"Late January early February was when we really had our peak.  This year it's noticeably earlier," Lantrip said.

Lantrip said they are seeing a big spike in cases right now, but how do you prevent the illness?

"The CDC calls it the basic three, the first one being get your vaccine. Big proponent of the vaccine.  Even in years when the vaccine match isn't as great it still provides some level of protection for you," Lantrip said.

Lantrip said it's not too late to get your flu shot.  

"Very important that especially now that we know it's here in our community to go ahead and get that sooner rather than later especially because it can take up to two weeks to confirm immunity from the vaccine," Lantrip said.

And if you've ever had the flu you know how terrible it can be,

"It's very awful.  I was sick, throwing up been to many hospitals and it's hard to get rid of," Abilene resident, Corey Flannagan said.

KTAB also reached out to the Abilene-Taylor County Public Health District and they said there have been almost 300 cases of the flu reported last week.  Keep in mind doctors are not required to report flu cases so these numbers are not exact.

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