H1N1 flu virus hits Texas early
Texas is among the states hardest hit so far by an early-striking flu season, and H1N1 is the strain most commonly reported among diagnoses this year.
Flu season this year is less severe elsewhere on the High Plains. Oklahoma is reporting a moderate flu season as of mid-December, while Colorado and Kansas are experiencing only localized or regional flu outbreaks, according to KUT Austin.
Six deaths in Central Texas have been attributed to the H1N1 strain, according to KHOU-TV/UPI.
Health officials advice those traveling from Texas this holiday season to be cautious of spreading the virus and to stay home if there's any sign of illness.
Commonly referred to as the "swine flu" since the 2009 flu pandemic, H1N1 affects older children and young adults more severely. This is different from the typical flu, which has greater impacts on infants and the elderly.
While the 2009 flu pandemic may give the H1N1 strain notoriety, the strain is now considered a seasonal flu strain and is included in this year's flu vaccination. The flu shot takes two weeks to gain effectiveness and health officials urge everyone to get the flu shot in time to get protection before the traditional height of the flu season arrives in January.