Just after Thanksgiving, Dallas County Health and Human Services announced that flu infections were on the rise in the county, publishing a report on an early November spike in specimens sent by the county to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testing positive for the flu. At the time, Dallas County specimens were testing positive 7.5 percent of the time, compared with just 4.4 percent nationally.
In the weeks since, Dallas numbers have gotten worse.
Specimens from Dallas County are now testing positive 12.8 percent of the time, nearly double the 6.7 percent national average, according to the most recent from the county. While the county has not suffered a flu-related death this year, signs are pointing to what could be a bad season. Thanks to a chart provided by the county, it's easy to see that the number of specimens testing positive for the flu is spiking earlier in the 2017-18 flu season than it did in either of the past two years.
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When the Dallas Observer checked in on the data in November, 26 Dallas County residents had been hospitalized for the flu. Now that number is up to 82, including 33 hospitalizations for the week ending Dec. 2, the last week for which data is available. Hospitalizations are running "slightly above the baseline," according to the county.
Dallas County officials still urge that anyone older than 6 months old get a flu vaccine as the season rolls on. The flu vaccine is available for children at all county health clinics and for adults at the county's primary clinic off Interstate 35. Vaccines are free for low-income Dallas residents and those without health insurance.