OR physicians urge flu patients to call first due to overcrowding

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Health officials urge people in high-risk groups-babies, seniors, and those with compromised immune systems-to get vaccinated against the flu.

Five more Dallas County people have died from flu-related illness, bringing the total to 23 dead in one of the area's worst flu seasons in decades, Dallas County Health and Human Services said Wednesday. To protect the family's privacy, the Department can only confirm that the death occurred downstate.

While data fluctuate on how many Americans die annually from the flu, during the 2012 to 2013 flu season an estimated 56,000 people died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The flu strain now causing the most infections is H3N2, an influenza A virus that has been linked with increased hospitalizations and death, especially in young children and adults over age 65.

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Infants, the elderly and people with certain medical conditions are at highest risk of getting severe complications from the flu.

The 19 CommUnityCare Health Centers in Travis County report they have received up to 90 patients a day with flu-like symptoms since mid-December, according to Central Health, which funds the centers.

"What we do know is that even when there is a good match between the influenza strains that circulate, and those that are used in the vaccine, there's a difference in the effectiveness of the vaccine", Werker says.

Quinlisk said it's likely Iowa will see a rise in influenza diagnoses, since this year's peak isn't expected to be reached until the end of January or the beginning of February. The flu is a respiratory illness caused by viruses.

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Flu‐like symptoms include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, muscle aches, chills and fatigue.

"Even at its best, the seasonal flu vaccine is only 60% effective, and we've had years where it's as low as 10% but we anticipate it won't be that low this year", Fauci says. It takes about two weeks for the flu shot to take effect. If possible, have the sick person use a separate bathroom and clean it once daily with disinfectant.

· Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.

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