ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Flu cases are significantly down in Abilene compared to last year, leading local health experts to wonder if COVID-19 is impacting this season.
Last year, there were nearly 700 cases of the flu reported in Abilene for just the first week of January – specifically 187 cases of Flu A and 471 cases of Flu B – but this year, only 3 flu cases total have been reported – all Flu B.
Abilene-Taylor County Public Health District Director Annette Lerma says there has been a lot of speculation regarding the low flu cases, all centered around the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Lema says that people are taking extra precautions because of COVID-19, such as increased hand washing and social distancing, so other illnesses like the flu may be prevented as well.
She also thinks that because normal sites that report flu cases have been so busy testing for COVID-19, they may not be testing for the flu or may not be reporting the flu test numbers because it is not mandated by the state.
Many patients who test negative for COVID-19 have no follow up tests conducted to determine the actual source of their symptoms.
Lerma says “these [patients] could be falling through the cracks and people are just recovering without seeking additional medical intervention.”
This decrease in flu cases is not significant to Abilene and is something Lerma says is happening across the nation.