(RxWiki News) With flu season in full swing, the seasonal influenza might be on a lot of people's minds. One strain of swine flu is causing infections in some parts of the country.
The H1N1 influenza A virus has been tied to recent infections and several deaths in Texas.
Health authorities are recommending the seasonal influenza vaccine, which also protects against H1N1, for everyone 6 months old or older.
"Ask your doctor about the seasonal flu vaccine."
According to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, Texas has seen a recent spike in H1N1 activity.
CIDRAP reported that two infections in a cluster of eight severe influenza-like illnesses near Houston have been confirmed as cases of the 2009 H1N1 virus.
The investigation into the other six cases is ongoing. Four of the eight patients have died, reported CIDRAP. The two who have been confirmed as H1N1 infections have survived.
Northwest of Houston, in Travis County (which includes the state capital of Austin), one confirmed H1N1 death has been reported.
According to KVUE News, a local ABC News affiliate, the deceased patient was 65 years old and otherwise healthy before becoming ill with H1N1.
"Seton Hospital officials told KVUE that they have five people critically ill from H1N1," the news organization reported.
KVUE also reported that H1N1 is suspected in seven recent Texas deaths and 14 critical conditions across the state.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), Texas is currently seeing a "high" level of flu-like activity, though this does not represent an unusual increase in flu activity.
"Unusually severe cases of flu-like illness are routinely investigated during the flu season by local health departments in coordination with the Texas Department of State Health Services," explained the department. "H1N1 is the most common circulating flu strain so far this season. This year’s flu vaccine includes protection against the most common flu strains, including H1N1."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone aged 6 months old or older get a seasonal flu vaccine each year.
"The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season," explained CDC. "Traditional flu vaccines (called trivalent vaccines) are made to protect against three flu viruses; an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus."
Though the season is already in full swing, David Lakey, MD, DSHS Commissioner, stressed in a press release that it is not too late to get vaccinated.
“Flu is on the rise and causing severe illness in certain people. It is not unexpected this time of year, but it’s a good reminder for people to get vaccinated and stay home if they’re sick,” said Dr. Lakey. “Flu can be deadly. People who have not been vaccinated should do so now. It’s the best defense we have.”