The Influenza virus, more commonly called the flu, hit Somervell County early.
Michael Honea, lab director at Glen Rose Medical Center, said Friday that the hospital has already seen positive cases of the flu.
"It's usually December or January before we see high numbers," Honea said, adding the outbreak recently spurred a call from the Texas Department of Health. "They called for additional information since we were turning in numbers early in comparison to other locations and previous years."
Glen Rose ISD Superintendent Wayne Rotan said Monday student attendance appeared to be returning to normal following a spike in illnesses which were primarily at the elementary campus during the week of Oct. 15 when attendance was 10 percent below last year on one particular school day.
Honea said local cases recorded through late last week showed to be Influenza Type B, where as Type A is more commonly seen in local patients.
"That doesn't really mean much other than it's different than normal," Honea said.
As the local infection control coordinator, Honea said the best way to be armed for what could be a longer than normal flu season is to get a vaccination as soon as possible.
"The early outbreak could be the first of two rounds this flu season," he said, adding a later outbreak could be a different strain of the virus.
Honea explained whatever the type, the 2012-13 vaccine will help combat a "multitude of strains."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the H1N1 virus used to make this year's vaccine is the same virus that was included in last year's, but the H3N2 and B vaccine viruses are different.
Each year, experts from the Food and Drug Administration, World Health Organization, CDC and other institutions study virus samples from around the world to identify influenza viruses that are most likely to cause illness during upcoming flu season.
On Saturday, Oct. 20, local adults were armed for the season at a drive-thru vaccination clinic sponsored by GRMC and LDL Educational Resources Foundation. While the 500 vaccines made available for the annual clinic were dispersed in less than two hours and signs saying no more flu shots were available remained outside of the hospital throughout the week, Honea said the vaccine is still available in the local area.
"You can still get a flu shot at local clinics," he said. "In most cases, it's not necessary to see a physician to receive a vaccination. Patients should just call ahead and let nurses know what time they will be in to receive a vaccination."
In Glen Rose, patients can also obtain a flu shot at Best Value Medical Center Pharmacy, where shots are administered to walk-in clients.
The CDC recommends that everyone six months old and older get a flu vaccine annually.