More Than 130 North Texans Have Died From The Flu. Here's How To Protect Yourself | KERA News

More Than 130 North Texans Have Died From The Flu. Here's How To Protect Yourself

Mar 12, 2018

More than 130 people in North Texas and thousands more across the state have died from the flu this season.

One person in Parker County, 12 people in Denton County, 14 in Collin County, 33 in Tarrant County and 78 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 four additional deaths on Monday. 

Collin County has reported 14 deaths and Tarrant County has reported 33 so far this season, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Denton County reported three more fatal cases in late February, bringing the season's total to 12, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle.

Parker County has reported one case, according to KXAS-TV.

High flu activity in Dallas-Fort Worth

North Texas is one of worst areas for the flu in the country right now, according to a weekly index from Walgreens. And Texas currently ranks at No. 4 among the 10 states with the highest flu activity.

The pharmacy store chain compiled data using retail prescription data for antiviral medications used to treat influenza across Walgreens locations nationwide. The data does not include markets in which Walgreens has fewer than 10 retail locations.

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 regional instead of widespread flu activity.

More than 5,200 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. With influenza on the rise, 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

Vaccine effectiveness

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.