Jan 22, 2024 - News

COVID, flu and allergies collide in San Antonio

Illustration of shadow hands grabbing at a tissue box

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The germs that spread over the holidays are still making their rounds, leading many illness-ridden San Antonians to wonder, "Is it COVID-19, flu or allergies?"

Why it matters: Several respiratory illnesses are circulating simultaneously this season, including colds, flu, COVID and even cedar fever.

  • Because they share symptoms of sore throat, runny nose, itchy eyes, headaches and fatigue, it can be difficult to diagnose which is the culprit.

State of play: Bexar County COVID levels and hospitalizations remain low, according to city and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

  • The count of cases is 1,186, according to last week's latest numbers.

Yes, but: It's an increase of 248 cases from the count reported before the holidays.

The big picture: COVID, flu and RSV have been on the rise statewide in recent months.

  • About half of states, including Texas, were reporting "very high" flu activity as of Jan. 12, according to the latest CDC data.

Zoom in: The number of emergency room visits for flu cases in Bexar County was higher than those for COVID and RSV at the end of 2023, according to CDC data.

  • Bexar County's final flu report for 2023 showed the number of positive flu tests was trending upward. However, the most recent data reported on Jan. 6 shows those positive tests are now decreasing.
  • The flu activity is considered moderate.

Zoom out: The CDC estimates that between 10-19 million Americans have had the flu this season, and 110,000-230,000 people have been hospitalized because of the illness.

Plus: Texas is also about to hit peak cedar allergy season this month.

Threat level: Data on how many people in Bexar County have taken the most recent COVID booster isn't available, but only 15% of residents had the booster that became available in 2022, per CDC data analyzed by the New York Times.

Be smart: It's not too late to get a flu or COVID vaccine to protect yourself against serious illness and complications.

  • Check the expiration dates of your at-home COVID tests before using them, and order more free ones from the government if you haven't already.
  • If you're prone to allergies, Texas A&M Forest Service's Jonathan Motsinger recommends taking your allergy medicine daily this winter.

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