Willie Nelson cancels February shows due to flu

Willie Nelson's team announced the cancellation of his February tour dates as he recovers from the flu.

Many fans in Austin are wishing him well knowing how bad this year's flu season has been.  

Willie's publicist says he'll need a few more weeks to completely recover. This comes at a time when we're finding out Travis County is having the deadliest flu season in recent history.

When country legend Willie Nelson is sick, his fans are quick to show support. 

Willie, I feel for you brother. It's a bad strain going around and I definitely hope that you're all better soon and back on stage," says Sebastian Machado, Willie Nelson fan. 

It was announced on social media Tuesday that he had the flu. The news spread like wildfire. 

"I went to school with Willie's daughter, middle school, so I was sad to hear that he's not doing well," says Jason Luce, Willie Nelson fan. 
Willie canceled all of his February shows, starting with Macon, Georgia on the 7th to Saint Augustine, Florida on the 18th. A total of eight performances were canceled. Willie's tour is expected to resume in early March. Dr. Phil Huang with Austin Public Health understands that decision since the flu is very contagious. 

"Typically about a period of five days, starting a day before you even get symptoms. So you know, you shouldn't go to work until you've been without fever for like 24 to 48 hours...that's not being on Tylenol or any other medication that reduces fever," says Dr. Phil Huang, health authority & medical director, Austin Public Health

There have been 29 deaths in Travis County since November. Out of those deaths, 19 have been someone 80 years or older. The rest have been at least 30 years old. It's considered the deadliest flu season in the county in recent years. 

"One of the things, this particular season, is it's the particular type of flu. It's a type A flu but it's the strain H3N2 and so, when we see those as the predominant circulating strain, that's when we have a more severe illness, more hospitalizations, more deaths," says Dr. Huang.  

Dr. Huang says this flu season, Travis County has also had around 24 outbreaks in long-term care facilities. He still recommends people get the flu shot. As for Willie's current condition, his publicist says he looks as healthy as ever. But, the doctor determined his voice needed more time to recuperate in order to perform.  

Willie sends this message to his fans: "I will see you all down the road." Many people spent Tuesday taking pictures of the statue that is erected in his honor on 2nd street. 

"This year's flu has been a doozy. It's been pretty brutal for everybody. It takes down the best of us," says Dug Dong, Willie Nelson fan. 

Dr. Huang says getting the flu shot can reduce the severity of the illness. He say researchers are working to get a universal vaccine to be able to protect against all strains.