When is flu season? 
Flu season is determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each flu season starts in week 40 and runs through the following year’s week 39. This year started with the week ending October 5, 2013, and it will end on September 27, 2014.

You’re saying flu season runs all year?
Technically, flu seasons run kind of like a fiscal year. But sometimes we have peaks—December, January, February. It’s really hard to predict when we are going to have a peak. They can begin as early as October and last into May.

Why do we prepare for the flu in the fall?
The fall is when they distribute the new vaccine because they’re different every year. They recommend that you start getting the vaccine when kids are going back to school.

Has this been a more intense flu season than in years past?
I don’t think you can say this has been a more intense season. Facilities are reporting more information. But influenza alone is not on the Texas Notifiable Conditions List, meaning hospitals and physicians are not required to report. We encourage hospitals and physicians to report each week. If we continue to get consistent data, we will be able to analyze different flu seasons in the future with improved quality.

The number of deaths this year, though, seemed alarming, no? If you do come down with the flu, when should you seek medical attention rather than just treating your symptoms at home? 
The number of deaths in North Texas this year may seem alarming due to underreporting in previous years. Notify your health care provider if you are feeling ill, and he or she will give you further instructions. 

How many people have died in Collin County from the flu this year?
As of late February, there have been 10 confirmed deaths. Most of our deaths were 50 or older, and they all had underlying conditions. 

There’s been a lot of talk about the swine flu. What’s the difference between the flu and the swine flu, and did we all get the swine flu this year? 
To put it simply, the flu, also known as influenza (type A or type B), is what we humans catch. Swine flu, also known as swine influenza, is a respiratory disease of pigs. The actual swine flu virus does not typically infect humans. Swine flu has become a nickname for H1N1, an influenza type A virus that infects humans. This nickname was given due to the similarities seen in the lab between human H1N1 and the swine equivalent. Influenza type A is predominantly the flu type this year with the H1N1 strain being the majority of cases. To answer your question, no, we were not all infected with the swine flu this year. The majority of individuals contracted H1N1, which has the nickname swine flu. 

It’s already April, so at this stage, is there anything we can do to protect ourselves?
Get the flu vaccine! There is still time. The CDC recommends that people receive the vaccine as long as flu viruses are circulating. Substantial activity can occur as late as May. Also practice good hygiene. And if you or your child has influenza-like symptoms, stay home. People don’t understand that there are individuals they come in contact with who have reduced immune systems. These are the people who catch the flu and end up on ventilators.