AMARILLO -- The flu virus has hit the Panhandle hard and heavy, and Amarillo hospitals are looking for ways to keep up.
"This year for us has been a record year," said BSA Emergency Room Medical Director Chris Bradburry. "Almost 6,000 patients we saw in December, which is a huge increase."
Influenza started earlier this year than in years past, causing the numbers to rise faster. The Centers for Disease Control reported 22,048 between September 30th through the end of 2012. But according to experts, its a fine line between a case of the sniffles, and full blown flu.
"What we end up finding is, that during a typical flu season, at the peak of the flu season, when there's the most flu going around, only about 30 percent of people who have a flu like illness actually have the flu," said Tod Bell, Director or West Texas Influenza Center. "The flu typically has more headaches, muscle aches, and less runny nose and nasal congestion."
According to Dr. Bell, despite it being so late in the season, the best way to combat the flu is being offensive. Dr. Bell says it's never too late for a flu shot but be warned, it will take around 2 weeks to be effective.