Flu outbreak hits Marfa

MARFA — John Paul Schwartz, DO is warning Marfa residents to take precautions after an outbreak of the flu last Friday. The Marfa Country Clinic had five influenza A cases come in that day, and each one of those people had four to seven others living in their home.

Adrian Billings, MD, PhD of the Preventative Care Health Clinics said after Thanksgiving, their clinic has seen “this rapid ascent of cases and that’s continued as well into this week. The flu season will go all the way until March.”

“Anyone out there having sudden fever with cough and body aches should get screened for influenza immediately at a medical facility,” Schwartz said in a statement. Schwartz said cases come in waves, and he’s expecting more this week as the atmosphere shifts.

Patients need to be seen within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, Billings said.

Oseltamivir, often referred to by its brand name Tamiflu, is the common prescription after a diagnosis of the flu, or as a preventative for those sharing a household with an ill person.

For those who come down with a case, Schwartz says to avoid going to work, and take precautions to have everyone in the household take oseltamivir.

The doctor recommends Marfa residents prevent contracting the flu by washing their hands, avoiding crowds and getting a flu shot.

At the Country Clinic and PCHS, the shot is $25 and is sometimes covered by insurance.

The shot takes effect within 10 days and Schwartz dispelled the rumor that you could contract the flu from the shot itself.

“It induces your immune response so you might notice it for a day or so. You might run half a degree temperature for a day, but that’s fairly rare. It does not give you the flu,” he said. “It is still not too late for flu shots.”

Billings said, “People still die from the flu. The vaccine is very effective. From data from the state, one of the strains in the current flu vaccines is the predominant strain going around,” rendering this year’s vaccine pretty effective.

Patients without insurance can get a free flu shot at the Texas Department of State Health Services. The shot is recommended for anyone 6 months of age or older, even those who are pregnant.