Flu Cases Spike In Texas, 13 Dead In Houston Area

EL PASO (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Officials are reporting a spike in flu cases in Texas with more than a dozen deaths in the Houston area. The primary culprit: the H1N1 strain, also known as the swine flu.

KHOU in Houston reports that 13 people have died in Houston so far, including a teenager. Kathy Barton, spokeswoman for the city’s health department, says the teenager was infected with the H1N1 strain of the virus. About 95 percent of the influenza A cases in Texas are H1N1.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Texas is one of four states with “high” activity of influenza-like illnesses, prompting health officials to urge people to get their flu shots.

State health officials say influenza has become widespread across Texas, which is not unusual for this time of year. Health care providers also worry that travel around the holidays can further spread the virus.

Last week, Texas health officials issued new guidelines for treating flu patients, asking doctors to prescribe antiviral treatments for patients with flu-like symptoms — even if initial tests come back negative.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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