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Flu returns in full force to the Borderland

Look around town and you'll see plenty of sights that spring is on the way. Temperatures in the 80s. Flowers blooming right and left. But while we prepare to say goodbye to the cold weather, one thing that may not be leaving so easily is the flu virus.

The flu is hitting El Paso hard, especially in the past few weeks. Last week, the first flu related death of the season struck El Paso, involving a man in his 90s who had tested positive for the Influenza A virus. While it's unknown if the man had received the flu vaccine this year, this death was the first fatal flu case in El Paso since March 14, 2016.

And according to the CDC, the flu is on the uptick all across the country, becoming a widespread concern for over 40 states this week, including Texas.

Data from the El Paso Health Department also shows the total number of flu cases this season has topped 694 as of Feb. 1. A new update is expected in the coming days. Those numbers are slightly higher than the 653 cases of the flu reported at this same point in the season, last year.

According to Ramon Herrera, the Public Information Officer for the El Paso Health Department, the trend in seeing an uptick in flu related illnesses in recent weeks, is similar in nature to the trend of the flu virus last season. According to Herrera, the flu virus peaked late in the season last year, lasting into late April.

Michelle Foster, a certified physician assistant at Medpost Urgent Care in West El Paso, says about 25 percent of her daily patients exhibit flu like systems.

"The flu has hit very late this year. We've seen it spread all across America, and parts of the Caribbean. According to the CDC, the outbreak has gone on for eight weeks, and continues to increase" Foster says.

According to Michelle, although the flu shot isn't 100 percent effective, it is the best way to provide a defense against the virus itself.

"The flu shot helps all the time," says Foster. "Each shot has about three-four different strains in it, so the flu is constantly changing. But if you get the flu shot, your body will recognize the virus faster than if it didn't get a shot, so it's always a good thing to do."

The El Paso Health Department also wants to remind the public of the four C's when trying to stay healthy.

  • Cover Your Cough
  • Clean Your Hands
  • Confine yourself at home when sick
  • Crowds should be avoided when the flu is in your neighborhood

If you haven't received the flu vaccine yet, but would like to, you can still get one this week by attending one of the "Vaccinations for Health" programs offered March 1, 8, and 29, at the EPFD Safety Health Outreach Center located at 5415 Trowbridge Drive from 1 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

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