Texas encourages attention to flu treatment, prevention

The Texas Department of State Health Services issued flu testing and treatment guidance for doctors on Friday.

Medical providers in Texas have reported an increase in cases of the flu in multiple parts of the state. The DSHS said unusually severe cases of flu-like illness are investigated, and H1N1 is the most common strain of the virus this year. The flu level in Texas has been classified as "high."

This year's vaccine includes protection against H1N1, as well as other common flu strains.

"Flu is on the rise and causing severe illness in certain people," David Lakey, the DSHS commissioner, said. "It is not unexpected this time of year, but it's a good reminder for people to get vaccinated and stay home if they're sick. Flu can be deadly. People who have not been vaccinated should do so now. It's the best defense we have."

DSHS encouraged medical care providers to consider prescribing antiviral treatments. The department said antiviral treatment is recommended for anyone with confirmed or suspected flu, who is in the hospital, has severe or progressive illness or has a higher risk for complications.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 23,600 Americans die from influenza every year. People over the age of 65, pregnant women, young children and people with chronic illness are at risk for complications.