More Than 50 North Texans Have Died From The Flu. Here's How To Protect Yourself | KERA News

More Than 50 North Texans Have Died From The Flu. Here's How To Protect Yourself

Jan 19, 2018

Update: Monday, Jan. 22, 4:20 p.m.

Dozens of people have died from the flu in North Texas this season.

Six people in Collin County, eight in Tarrant County, three in Denton County and a whopping 43 in Dallas County have died after complications from the virus.

In Dallas County, the number of flu-related deaths has skyrocketed since Jan. 1, when the total number was just six. Monday afternoon, Dallas County Health and Human Services reported three additional deaths

Denton County reported a third fatal case on Friday. Collin County reported six deaths on Thursday. The eight deaths reported in Tarrant County had underlying conditions, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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 the top 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. Like much of the country, Texas is experiencing widespread flu activity.

The number of regions in the state reporting increased flu activity has gone up, according to the state's latest report. Other respiratory viruses have been detected in the state recently, too.

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 is far from over

Flu activity often begins in October and peaks between December and February, but it can last as late as May, according to the CDC.