More illnesses to ponder

While the Ebola virus has been in the news of late, it’s worth pointing out a few other serious illnesses are actually circulating in San Antonio at the moment.

Flu — The first lab-confirmed case of influenza A virus in Bexar County in the current flu season was reported by the Texas Department of State Health Services for the week of Sept. 27. Flu seasons are unpredictable, and it may be weeks before the virus starts to circulate widely (the peak of the season is often in December). Flu is a serious illness, killing as many as 50,000 people a year, and hospitalizing some 200,000 on average.  The good news is the vaccine is widely available, and should be given to everyone 6 months of age and older.

West Nile — Last year, not a single case of West Nile was reported in Bexar County. So far this year, one person locally has been diagnosed with West Nile neuroinvasive disease, the most serious form.  The mosquito-borne infection can be deadly, and with significant rain in recent weeks, pools of stagnant water provide breeding ground for the mosquitoes that carry it. Check your yard for standing water in buckets, bird baths, old tires and pet dishes. Use mosquito repellent, wear long sleeves and avoid the outdoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes most like to feed.

Whooping cough — Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a vaccine-preventable illness. University Health System labs detected the infection in a school-age child during the week ending Oct. 4.

Enterovirus D68 — The severity of this respiratory infection took many people by surprise this year. Texas has reported 14 cases, and Bexar County has one of them.

The same advice applies for the many respiratory infections that circulate this time of year: wash your hands often with soap and water, and use hand sanitizer; cover your coughs and sneezes, avoid touching your face, stay home when your sick and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

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