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      Peak of flu season yet to come

      Dr. Joseph Martinez O'Harra has kept busy at the Valley Day and Night Clinic in Brownsville with the recent influx of patients seeking treatment for flu like symptoms.

      Dr. Martinez O'Harra said that last year there were fewer cases of the virus, which might have put people at ease this season, and in turn backfired.

      "(There TMs) an assortment of viruses lose in the population this year (that) has led to a very heavy increase in the number of cases and also in the severity of the cases, Dr. Martinez O TMHarra said, and in the need in the many of the victims to have to refrain from their usual activities."

      Epidemiologist at the Texas Department of Health Services Barbara Adams said this year health care facilities are reporting a four percent increase in flue cases compared to last year. " that equals about 12 percent of patients.

      Medical Assistant at VDNC Laura Gonzalez said when this 12 percent of patients come in for treatment, most have waited too long.

      "Once you are sick with a fever, chills or body aches, we are not able to give you a flu shot anymore, Gonzalez said. The vaccine is good for whenever we are not sick or don TMt have a cough."

      Gonzalez said patients that already have the flu will get antibiotics and cough medicine, but the symptoms will last from 4 to 10 days.

      Health officials said they cannot stress enough how important it is for a sick person to stay home. According to the Center for Disease Control, those who are ill are contagious one day before they show symptoms to 5 to 7 days after getting sick.

      Officials also said children and the elderly have weaker immune systems and are more prone to the flu.

      However, local health officials said not enough of those patients get vaccinated. In Texas this season, three children have already died.

      "It would be best to bring them to the doctor just to prevent (them from getting sick) because it is (a) very strong (virus)," Gonzalez said.

      Local officials also said there are plenty of vaccines available and encourage people to wash their hands often and disinfect their homes.

      Flu season runs through May with peak season in mid-February.