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H1N1 linked to growing number of flu cases
BEAUMONT- by Haley Bull
Healthcare workers have linked H1N1 to many of the flu cases in Southeast Texas, including six deaths and 20 flu cases in the Greater Houston area. The Beaumont health director said nine samples from Beaumont tested positive for H1N1 and that now's the time to get vaccinated.
Friday was the first time 53-year old John C. Brown got a flu shot. His sister-in-law was responsible for persuading him to visit the Beaumont Health Department.
"She called me yesterday at work and told me she loved me and she wanted me to come get a flu shot," Brown said.
Loretta Juneau is an immunization clerk at the department.
"I called him and asked him to come in," Juneau said. "He's nervous of needles, but of course with the outbreak that we have here in Texas, I thought it was very important that he would come in and get vaccinated."
The outbreak in Texas is one of the worst in the nation. Six patients in Montgomery County and two in Beaumont died. Many more are ill. Some had called it the 'mystery illness.' It's no longer that.
"I hate to say that we are excited to know that it is H1N1 but it's not mysterious, it's not a mystery illness to us here anymore," Sherry Ulmer, the director of the Beaumont Public Health Department, said.
"We know what it is and we know that we are prepared for it. So the flu vaccine is the most effective way of preventing yourself from getting this illness or a serious form of this illness," she said.
Ulmer said samples from nine people in Beaumont tested positive for H1N1.
"The good news is that it is included in this year's flu vaccine so we are continuing to urge people to come in and get their flu shots now that we know that this is one of the strains of flu that's circulating," Ulmer said. "We want to be sure that people are getting vaccinated."
If they come down with flu-like symptoms, their doctors need to act quickly.
"Don't wait for any type of laboratory confirmation. If they are experiencing influenza-like illnesses, go ahead and start them on antiviral medications, that's critical," Ulmer said.
It's something John Brown hopes to avoid after getting a flu shot for the first time in his life.
"I want to be around for a while longer. That's it," Brown said.
Other things people can do to lessen the flu's impact include getting plenty of rest, staying home from work or school if they have the virus, coughing and sneezing into the bend of their elbows, washing their hands and seeing their doctor as soon as they experience any symptoms.