Cases of influenza-associated pediatric mortality are reportable within one working day. Other single cases of influenza are not reportable by law in Texas. The state, regional, and local health departments rely on volunteer clinics, hospitals, laboratories, and others to report influenza data throughout the season.
Influenza viruses can be spread by large respiratory droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes in close proximity to an uninfected person. Sometimes influenza viruses are spread when a person touches a surface with influenza viruses on it (e.g., a doorknob), and then touches his own nose or mouth.
Symptoms can include fever, dry cough, sore throat, headache, body aches, fatigue, and nasal congestion. Among children, otitis media, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are common. Some infected persons are asymptomatic. Most people generally recover from illness in 1-2 weeks, but some people develop complications and may die from influenza. The highest rates of influenza infection occur among children; however, the risks for serious health problems, hospitalizations, and deaths from influenza are higher among people 65 years of age or older, very young children, and people of any age who have medical conditions that place them at increased risk for complications from influenza.
Treatment & Prevention
Most people who develop influenza illness will recover on their own with bed rest and do not need medication. Antiviral medications can shorten the duration and severity of illness if given within the first 48 hours of the illness. These medications are usually prescribed to persons who have a severe illness or to those who are at higher risk for developing serious illness or complications due to influenza.
The best way to prevent influenza is to get an influenza vaccine each year as soon as the vaccine is available to the public. Other forms of prevention include hand washing and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers; covering your coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue or your arm or sleeve; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth; avoiding close contact with persons who are ill; staying home when you are ill; and taking antiviral medications if prescribed by your doctor. In certain situations (e.g., influenza outbreaks in settings like nursing homes) antiviral medications may be prescribed to high-risk individuals to prevent them from developing influenza illness after exposure to infected individuals.
School Exclusion Criteria
Children with influenza are required to be excluded from school and daycare for at least 24 hours after fever has subsided without the use of fever suppressing medications. It is recommended that adults with influenza not return to work for at least 24 hours after fever has subsided without the use of fever suppressing medications.
Recent Texas Trends
The official influenza reporting season for the United States begins in October and continues through May. In Texas, influenza activity usually peaks in January or February, although the peak of influenza has happened as early as October. Individual cases of influenza are not tracked; however, sentinel surveillance partners in the state provide information on when and where influenza viruses are circulating, if circulating influenza viruses match the vaccine strains, if the circulating influenza viruses are changing, where and when influenza-like illnesses are occurring, and the severity of influenza activity. For surveillance reports see the Surveillance link.