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Austin doctors see spike in flu cases

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At least one death in the Houston area is being blamed on the H1N1 virus after four patients with flu-like symptoms died earlier this week.

Meanwhile, here in Austin, doctors say they're seeing a spike in flu cases and in some cases, they are threatening people's lives.

Doctors say it started in November and cases of the flu are still going up.

"It seems to be the same H1N1 that's been circulating now for four years in a row," said Dr. Coburn Allen, with Seton Medical Center. "Children were actually being transferred from ICU's in Texas because they had run out of beds in Houston to our hospital."

Dr. Allen says when people get together, like in a car or plane, that's the best way to spread the virus.

Allen said, "This year we've seen a big uptick in cases of influenza-like illness quite a bit earlier than we saw last year."

Currently, five patients are being treated at Seton for life-threatening complications from the flu.

"Texas is probably the first state, if not the leading state right now with the number of cases of influenza in America," said Allen.

By the end of November, he says only 35 percent of children were vaccinated.

Allen said, "And we know every year, only about 50 percent to 60 percent of people that should get the vaccine, get vaccinated."

Dr. Allen says H1N1 and another virus, known as "H3" are both included in this year's flu vaccine.

"Has not yet come to Texas," said Allen. "There's a good opportunity now for you to get that vaccine before that second wave of flu, perhaps, will hit us."

Call your doctor if you're experiencing shortness of breath, or you start to get better and then get worse, because you may have something else more serious than the flu.

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