Flu cases in McLennan County have spiked recently, with more than 1,000 cases of the flu and flu-like illnesses reported by healthcare providers and schools last week, according to the Waco-McLennan County Health District.

“The best protection against the flu virus is vaccination,” according to a release on the spike. “It is not too late to get a flu shot. Flu season typically does not peak until January or February.”

The spike last week is within about 100 cases of the most reported in a single week for the past five flu seasons, according to city data. The historical comparison does not include flu-like illnesses.

The week ending Nov. 25 saw 204 flu and flu-like cases reported in the county. The week ending Dec. 8 saw 338 cases reported, and last week saw 1,041 cases, more than triple the previous week, according to a city press release.

Illnesses at West Independent School District’s elementary school caused the absentee rate to hit almost 20 percent this week. In response, school officials opted to start winter break a day early for the campus and start disinfecting the school.

Flu symptoms often include fever, cough, sore throat, headache, chills and muscle aches, and thousands of people die each year because of the flu, mostly among elderly people, according to the press release. In addition to vaccination, washing hands and cough hygiene can slow the spread of the flu virus, according to the health district.

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

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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