Yes, it’s a wretched, awful, miserable flu season this year

Categories: Emergency care  /  Flu  /  Infections  /  News

Woman with flu in warm socks surrounded by used tissue, medicines and hot tea

If you thought flu season was bad this year, here’s a little confirmation.

It’s bad this year.

An early season and a troublesome flu strain have sickened a lot of people in our community, and across the country.

It’s been setting some records at University Health System, where the virology lab is reporting total weekly numbers of cases approaching the volumes seen during the swine flu pandemic in 2009, with 273 positive cases the week ending Jan. 6.

Most of those were University Health System patients, and the numbers are likely deceptively low because when flu is in full swing, many providers forego testing and begin treatment right away with antivirals, which work better the faster they’re started.

Dr. Jason Bowling, an infectious disease specialist and staff epidemiogist at University Health System, told San Antonio Express-News’ reporter Rich Marini that the predominant strain of flu this year — A/H3N2 — tends to mutate more quickly, and may have changed its shape since this year’s vaccine was formulated.

“In Australia, where the flu season begins before ours, the vaccine’s effectiveness was pretty low, about 13 percent,” Dr. Bowling told the Express-News. “That’s because this year’s flu tends to have more minor genetic mutations, called ‘drifting.’ So the vaccine doesn’t match up with it as well as we’d like.”

Still, if you haven’t yet gotten a flu shot, Dr. Bowling recommends you get it quickly. Even if it doesn’t work as well, it will lessen the flu’s severity and keep you out of the hospital. Influenza is the most worrisome of the wintertime respiratory infections. Flu kills thousands of people each year in the U.S., results in hundreds of thousands admitted to hospitals, and infects millions.

Plus, there are multiple strains circulating right now that are more susceptible to the vaccine, including an A/H1N1 strain and a B strain, University Health System’s lab reports.

There are other ways to protect yourself and others, including frequent handwashing, covering your cough and staying home when you’re sick.

And if you do get the flu, read the complete Express-News interview with Dr. Bowling and University Medicine Associates physician Dr. Amy Cobb on how to prevent flu from worsening into pneumonia.

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Featured Video

Upcoming Events

  • Sat
    2 p.m. to 3 p.m.University Hospital, 4502 Medical Drive

    Take a tour of University Hospital's Labor & Delivery floor and learn what to expect on the big day. On this one-hour tour, you will tour our Labor & Delivery Unit, tour our Mother/Baby Unit, visit our newborn nursery and review hospital policies. This tour is offered in English and Spanish. Please e-mail Childbirth Education at regarding availability for other languages. Expectant mothers can bring one additional adult to the tour. Registration is not required. For reservations or more information, call 210-358-1617 or email us at:

  • Fri
    11 a.m. to noonTexas Diabetes Institute, 701 S. Zarzamora St.

    2nd floor Diabetes & Health Education. Cooking Class Topic: Meal Prepping for Weight Loss. Our monthly healthy cooking classes are taught by registered dietitians in the Texas Diabetes Institute's teaching kitchen. When you sign up for just $5, you'll receive a cooking demonstration, recipes to take home and food samples. Seats are limited, so call today to reserve your place. Some classes are available in Spanish. The $5 fee should be paid at the Texas Diabetes Institute cashier's office prior to the start of the class. To reserve a seat or for more information, call 210-358-7100.

Download the University Health System App