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Influenza activity low across Texas, BCHD attributes decrease in Brazos reported cases to pandemic precautions

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Posted at 6:04 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 19:24:15-05

BRAZOS COUNTY, TEXAS — While COVID-19 may be at the center of all we do... it's not the only virus we should worry about.

COVID-19 may spread more rapidly than the flu, but that doesn't mean the flu is any less dangerous.

According to Texas Health and Human Services, influenza activity is low currently across the state of Texas.
In comparison to reported flu cases from last year, to this year, the Brazos County Health District is also seeing a decrease.

Some may wonder... how is this happening?

"Last year, at this time, we saw 3,400 of those flu and influenza-like cases. This year, we are at 987. So a dramatic decrease in what we are seeing locally," Sara Mendez, Support Services Manager with the Brazos County Health District shared.

Just like any other year, the Brazos County Health District is concerned about the flu.

With the typical flu season running from Oct-March, and with COVID-19 at the forefront of our minds, currently, when it comes to protecting our health, catching the flu could still happen, even in a COVID-19 world.

"We have always stressed, you know, washing your hands during the flu season, and that is one way we can prevent the flu. Wearing masks, social distancing... all that is helping prevent COVID, is also helping prevent flu cases," Mendez added.

"So it makes sense that this year, instead of the bad flu season that we could have had, it's very mild because of the protective measures we have already been engaged in," Angela Clendenin, Instructional Assistant Professor of Epidemiology with Texas A&M's School of Public Health said.

Both COVID-19, and the flu, are dangerous respiratory illnesses, but are caused by different viruses and getting vaccinated is still very important. Health officials say, the more people that are vaccinated, the more people that are protected.

"I know the push right now is to get your covid vaccine, but its just as important to be vaccinated for the flu," Mendez added.

Even though it is hard to determine any future human behaviors, health officials hope, caution, will still be front and center.

"Because you can't see a virus, you can't smell it, you can't taste it, so you have a certain amount of cautious behavior to protect yourself. But I think, the real test, is going to be 3, 4, 5 years from now. What is our social behavior going to look like then?," Clendenin shared.

Public health officials say, they hope, the importance of public health becomes crucial, whether pertaining to diabetes, or an infectious disease outbreak, public health provides the guidance to improve life.

"Everybody wants to live a healthier, higher quality life. That's what we want for each other, and what we want for ourselves, and that's really at the very core of public health. It is trying to keep a population of people living, at their optimal level of health," Clendenin said.

Experts say, it is still important to remain aware of the status of any disease, or illness, in your community, even if cases decrease.