Seven people in Travis County have died from the flu since the fall, already more than each of the past two flu seasons.
Seventeen people died in Travis County from the illness in 2014-15.
With at least two more months of the season to go, state officials are seeing a spike in cases because of a particularly nasty strain of the flu called H3N2, which was also the most common flu type three years ago.
Making matters worse, this year’s vaccine may fail to protect against H3N2, according to a study out of Australia that used the same vaccine during its season, which just wrapped up.
“The predominant strain is H3N2, which is typically associated with severe illness and hospitalization and even deaths,” said Philip Huang, medical director with the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department.
Although counties don’t track all cases, Travis County has seen 1,200 confirmed cases of the flu while Williamson and Hays counties have both reported more than 700 each. No deaths have been reported in Williamson and Hays counties.
The youngest people to die in Travis County so far this season were in their 50s, which Huang said is still considered young for flu-related deaths.
Although it’s questionable whether this year’s flu shot is effective, Huang recommends that people receive the vaccine because it can lessen the severity of the symptoms. He also said to wash hands, sneeze into arms, avoid rubbing eyes and mouths with hands and stay home when sick to avoid spreading and contracting the illness.