More Than 150 North Texans, Thousands Across State Have Died From The Flu
Updated, April 16
More than 150 people in North Texas and thousands more across the state have died from the flu this season.
One person in Parker County, 13 people in Denton County, 24 in Collin County, 33 in Tarrant County and 80 in Dallas County have died from the virus.
In Dallas County, the number of flu-related deaths has skyrocketed since Jan. 1, when the total number was just six. Dallas County Health and Human Services reported two additional deaths this month. The health department is still offering flu shots at mobile clinics around Dallas this month.
Collin County has reported 24 deaths — all adults — and Tarrant County has reported 33 so far this season.
Denton County reported one fatal case this month, bringing the season's total deaths to 13.
Parker County has reported one fatal case.
Flu across Texas and the country
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking the spread and impact of the flu in the U.S. week by week. Unlike much of the country, Texas is experiencing sporadic activity instead of local or regional flu activity.
More than 7,000 Texans have died, according to the state's latest report. Flu activity appears to have peaked in late January, state health officials say.
Here's the most recent map from the CDC of flu activity across the country.
Who's affected by the flu
Older adults, people with chronic health conditions, pregnant women and young children are more vulnerable to the flu. People at risk should take precaution by getting a flu shot. The CDC recommends a yearly vaccine for people 6 months and older.
How to prevent spread of the seasonal flu
- Get a flu vaccination. Enter your address to find a clinic near you.
- Cover your cough with a tissue or cough into your sleeve.
- Wash your hands and keep your hands away from your face.
- Avoid close contact with people who are coughing or appear ill.
- Stay home if you are sick or keep family members home if they are sick.
Source: Dallas County Health and Human Services
Flu vaccination rates for adults in recent years hover just over 40 percent, according to the CDC. Dr. Edward Dominguez, an infectious disease specialist at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, thinks he knows why.
"Many people feel that all of the available vaccines for influenza in the United States can actually cause the flu," he said. "And these are killed vaccines; they can't cause anything other than pain and local inflammation. Or you can be allergic to the components. None of these vaccines can actually cause the flu."
Dominguez says people are also turned off to getting the vaccine when they hear it's only 32 percent effective. Believe it or not, he says, that's not unusual.
"It turns out that that's about as good the flu vaccine has always been," he said. "Somewhere between 30-to-50 percent effective."
Read more from KERA's Courtney Collins' report.
The season could stretch into spring
Flu activity often begins in October and peaks between December and February, but it can last as late as May, according to the CDC.