Posted: Jan 10, 2013 4:21 PM
Updated: Jan 10, 2013 4:38 PM
WESLACO - Doctors say influenza infections have become widespread in the Rio Grande Valley. Health officials, however, said no outbreaks have been reported in the region and doctors would not provide specific numbers of people infected.
Doctors are using rapid test kits to determine if patients are infected with flu viruses. The results, though, do not have to be reported to the state's health department.
"The incidence of flu right now is way higher than usual. If you have high fever, if you have severe cough, get in and see the doctor and get checked," Dr. Matt Loewen said. He runs The Clinic in Weslaco.
Loewen said his clinic and Knapp Medical Center have seen a spike in the number of patients with flu-like symptoms.
"Flu-like symptoms are similar to symptoms you have when you have a cold. The fever and cough, sinus, sore throat, headaches," Loewen said.
"It's respiratory, so if you cough, sneeze, breath, kiss anybody you're going to spread it to them," he said.
Loewen said it takes fewer than 10 minutes to determine if someone has been infected with influenza viruses. Rapid tests allow doctors to swab the inside of a patient's nose to conduct the test.
"When I see a child with the flu, I will usually recommend that the parents tell the teacher so the teacher knows there is a case of flu from the classrooms," Loewen said.