El Campo and Wharton County residents’ COVID-19 precautionary efforts helped keep Influenza at bay this year.

Just one case was reported at El Campo Memorial Hospital this year with the traditional season ending March 31, according to officials there.

During the last flu season, El Campo and Wharton County cases were considered high although below epidemic levels. Nationwide, more than 25 million had been sickened.

Less than 3 percent of Texas’ population tested positive for the flu at any point during the 2020-2021 season in comparison to 15 percent in December and January of the prior flu season.

Overall, flu cases throughout Texas have been lower than the past four years.

The reason, officials say, is the public’s response to COVID-19.

Both Influenza and COVID-19 are contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses, and have similar symptoms. It takes medical testing to tell the difference.

The preventatives include washing hands, covering one’s mouth when coughing or sneezing, and isolating oneself if feeling sick, just like COVID advice.

According to CDC, the hospitalization rate for the 2020-21 flu season in America was just 0.7 per 100,000 people — the lowest since the agency started tracking flu data in 2005.

“This is one of the clear signals that these interventions work. They are really efficient at stopping the spread of these viruses,” according to Rachel Baker who studies public health and infectious disease at Princeton University’s High Meadows Environmental Institute. Baker made her comments to the Advisory Board, a medical research firm, March 30.

It’s good news, doctors say.

“Nobody has seen a flu season this low, ever. And some of us have some gray hair,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, told the WebMD. Vanderbilt is part of a network of hospitals that are actively looking for flu cases among their patients. They can’t find any.

A single case at ECMH is unusually low, according to Heather Walter, MSN RN, the director of quality, employee health, and Medical Surgery at the facility.

U.S. vaccination rates for this year’s flu season haven’t been released, but the CDC reports 194 million doses of the vaccine distributed.

Officials warn, however, that low infection rates so far are not a guarantee that cases won’t spike in the future. Continued precautions are urged

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