Galveston County Ready For Flu Season
By Robert Stanton
The Houston Chronicle
November 29, 2007
The first confirmed case of the flu this season has been
reported in Galveston County, but health officials are telling residents that
it's not too late to get vaccinated.
Kurt Koopmann, spokesman for the Galveston County Health
District, said the case was reported at an area hospital. The flu season runs
from October through May.
During that period, the health department reports all
confirmed flu cases at its clinics to the Texas Department of State Health
Services, Koopmann said.
Last year, the first confirmed case in the county was not
reported until Dec. 9, with only nine documented for the entire flu season.
On average, the health department reports about 16 flu
cases each year at its clinics in Galveston, Dickinson and Texas City.
But getting a handle on the total number of flu cases
countywide is difficult because reporting is not mandatory, Koopmann said.
"It's voluntary reporting, so it probably doesn't
completely and accurately report the number of cases in the community," he
Getting a flu shot is the best way to avoid getting sick
this winter, said Dr. Jennifer Raley, vice chair for Clinical Affairs for Family
Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
"In this area, our flu season is generally the most active
in January and February — the coldest months," Raley said. "You still have time
to get vaccinated now."
The last major flu outbreak in the county was in 2005, when
there were 45 confirmed cases. In contrast, there were four cases reported in
2004, 20 in 2003 and six in 2002.
There are some common-sense steps that people can take to
avoid catching the flu, Raley said, such as wiping off grocery baskets with
antibacterial tissues before shopping.
"It's very important to prevent yourself from becoming ill
and spreading that illness to others," Koopmann said.
For More Information Contact:
Public Information Officer
Galveston County Health District
409-938-2211 or 409-392-0007