Last week saw more flu cases reported in McLennan County than in any week for the past five flu seasons, according to city data.

After reporting a spike in flu and flu-like illnesses in the week ending Dec. 15, the Waco McLennan County Health district reported another jump for last week.

Health care providers and schools reported 1,541 cases of the flu and flu-like illnesses last week, up from 1,041 the week before, according to a health district press release.

Anyone with flu symptoms, including a fever, should stay at home and avoid contact with others, according to the health district.

The spike last week brought confirmed flu cases to more than 900, not including flu-like illnesses. The second-worst week in the past five years came in 2014 and saw almost 700 confirmed cases, according to city records.

Prescription medications, including Tamiflu, can help people suffering from the flu recover more quickly, and basic hand washing and cough hygiene will also slow the spread of illnesses, the press release states.

Local emergency health care centers also saw a flood of ill patients last weekend at drop-in clinics. Some clinics reported hours-long wait times and twice as many patients as normal.

Flu symptoms often include fever, cough, sore throat, headache, chills and muscle aches. The flu leads to thousands of deaths each year, primarily in elderly or otherwise vulnerable people, health officials stated.

Anyone who thinks they have the flu should contact their health care provider.

For more information on this flu season and past seasons in McLennan County, visit www.waco-texas.com/health.

Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

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