Tuesday, January 14 2014, 06:23 PM CST
Flu cases decreasing, but community not in the clear
BEAUMONT-By: Leslie Rangel
The number of flu cases is down in Beaumont, but the health director says it may be only a temporary decline.
There are 209 cases this week.
That's down from 235 cases last week.
The health director say BISD students account for about one fourth of the cases.
Nine have died of the flu or flu-related illness at Beaumont hospitals, all had the H1N1 strain and none of them had received a flu vaccine.
It's vaccine time for this young girl.
She's getting all her shots for school, including one to help protect her against the flu .
"Right now, for example, there a lot of flu because of the season and it's very important to protect, above all the children and the elderly," Maria Escobedo says in Spanish.
Escobedo visited the health department with Berenice.
Escobedo is a friend of the family.
She encouraged Berenice's mother to bring her child here to get the flu shot.
"In December, I got the flu because I didn't get the shot. I regret not getting it with all my heart because it's very important and it's horrible to get sick that way," Escobedo says.
The Beaumont Health Director agrees, she says flu cases are down this week but the community is not in the clear.
"We do expect the height to happen in February and then we expect to see a decline," Sherry Ulmer said.
This week there are about two hundred cases of flu-related illness, one fourth, students in the Beaumont School District.
"With the children just returning to school this week, it may be that we start to see a little bit of an increase," Ulmer says.
There is one important thing everyone can do to help limit the spread of the flu, sing 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.'
By the time you're done singing the song, you will have washed away all the germs that could spread bacteria.
Experts say you must wash at least twenty seconds.
"Then use a paper towel to turn the faucet off then use a paper towel to open the door if you're in a public restroom," Ulmer said.
Ulmer says it helps prevent contact with surfaces that could be infected.
Steps Escobedo is taking, in addition to ensuring her loved ones get a flu shot.
"Your health is first, we can't play around with our lives because it's too risky not to get your shot," Escobedo said.
The health department is reporting it has a little less than 2-hundred adult flu shots available.