Texas should take precaution against more than just West Nile - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Texas should take precaution against more than just West Nile

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West Nile isn't the only virus spreading throughout Texas.

There is no vaccine for West Nile virus which is affecting large areas of Texas. But, there is a vaccine for pertussis, also known as whooping cough, which is also spreading across the state.

This year we see could more cases of pertussis than we have in one year in half a century. The CDC reports more than 890 cases in Texas so far this year. They say the state may be one of 37 to develop an epidemic.

But, whooping cough can be stopped.

"We talked about a herd immunity. That is if the majority of individuals in a population are immune to a certain disease then it is difficult for that disease to be able to spread from person to person," Todd Bell, M.D. with Texas Tech says.

Doctor bell also says that the flu season is predicted to hit earlier than normal this year. Although covering your cough with your sleeve does help the spread of germs, it does not ensure you won't pass the virus along. So, doctors recommend getting vaccinated against it.

"Now one of the great things about the flu of course is that vaccines are affective in preventing the flu or in decreasing the severity of symptoms of the flu," Bell says.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield report the average cost of treating flu symptoms is more than $80. Doctor bells says there could be more money coming out of your pockets.

"If I don't have any sick leave and I'm having to take time away from work without pay, then that may be five or so days of lost work and lost wages," Bell says.

"Sometimes we see a cost of $2,000 a day when people are in the hospital. Those are huge cost compared to the cost of getting the flu shot which usually run somewhere between $20 and $30," Bell says.

Many providers are now fully covering these shots and suggest you call to find out if your plan covers them.