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Austin health officials warn flu strain spreading is most deadly

Austin Public Health officials are predicting this flu season will be one of the worst Travis County has seen in years. (Photo: U.S. Air Force / MGN Online)

Austin Public Health officials are predicting this flu season will be one of the worst Travis County has seen in years.

According to the CDC, Texas is one of 23 states currently classified as "widespread" in flu cases, meaning more than half of the counties in the state have reported an outbreak, including Travis County.

Wednesday, the number of flu-related deaths in Travis County rose to three.

The number of patients going to the ER reporting flu symptoms has also risen to the highest numbers in three years.

However, one of the main concerns for doctors isn't the sudden rise in cases, but the strain that is spreading.

"This year one of the concerns is it's this A (H3N2) type, which when we have that it's typically a more serious illness, more hospitalizations, even more deaths," says Dr. Huang.

Dr. Huang says 80 percent of people with the flu in Texas have influenza A, 75 percent of those have type A (H3N2), one of the most severe and deadly flu strains.

Public Health officials claim several things contribute to a severe flu season, like holiday travel and efficacy of the flu shot.

This year, based on the Australian vaccine, the flu shot was not as effective with battling the A (H3N2) strain that doctors are seeing now in Austin.

Although the flu shot might not have optimal efficacy for certain strains, Dr. Huang says people are still encouraged to get one, as they can prevent other strains and keep symptoms from getting too severe.

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