Texas

In Dallas and Tarrant counties, influenza and RSV cases are declining. But the thorns are still a concern

Influenza and RSV cases are declining in Dallas and Tarrant counties, according to local health data.

But while experts see the fall as a positive sign, they are still concerned about the possibility of surges in respiratory illnesses.

According to the Tarrant County Division of Epidemiology and Health Information, the number of flu cases began to rise in mid-October and peaked around Thanksgiving week. The weekly influenza surveillance report shows cases have been declining since then, with current cases close to where they were before the increase.

The data shows that 2,866 people tested positive for the flu during Thanksgiving week. Only 92 people have tested positive for influenza B.

“It’s been three months with the flu,” Tarrant County chief epidemiologist Russell Jones said.

Cases of RSV are being tracked in a similar way, with more than 200 people testing positive for RSV during Thanksgiving week, and by the end of December, the number had dropped to just under 100.

But COVID-19 continues to be of concern to local health officials – those cases rose in mid-December and again at the end of the month, and Jones still sees the region as having high levels of transmission.

And while the number of cases of influenza has peaked at the moment, health officials fear a resurgence with the emergence of a new strain, as in past years.

“Typically, at the end of the flu season, which starts in February,” Jones said, “we see another flu start to take over, like influenza B. And so another kind of flu will increase.”

Last year, for example, Jones said that in Tarrant County, the peak of flu cases fell, and six weeks later rose even higher. That’s why he encourages people to get vaccinated and boosted against influenza and COVID-19.

In Dallas County, Stephen Love, CEO of the D-FW Hospital Board, says his hospitals have seen similar peaks and troughs in flu, RSV and COVID-19 cases. Influenza peaked in Dallas County on November 26, when nearly 25% of hospital flu tests came back positive.

They steadily declined week after week: by January 7, less than 4% of tests were positive.

On Thanksgiving, over 16% of COVID tests in Dallas County were positive. Positive tests fell below 3% last week.

Like epidemiologist Jones, Love also encourages people to get vaccinated or boosted. He says that with all the diseases that are still circulating, you can get sick. But with a vaccine, you almost never get sick.

Love says his hospitals have been happy about the decline in all three viruses, but he is cautious, especially about the circulating strain of COVID.

“There is a variant of XBB.1.5 that is quite common in the Northeast, especially in New York,” Love said. “This option is in Texas and it is growing. So we have to keep an eye on it.”

Supplemental report by Katherine Hobbs



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