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Amid high flu activity in North Texas, health officials also are tracking respiratory syncytial (sinSISHuhl) virus. In this edition of KERA's consumer health series Vital Signs, Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, explains why he calls RSV “probably the most important respiratory virus that most people have never heard of.”

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Flu activity remains high in North Texas.  Dallas County has reported five flu-related deaths this season. There have been two in Tarrant County.

With Texas and 45 other states reporting widespread flu activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared a flu epidemic. Part of the blame goes to the current flu vaccine. It's less effective against Influenza A or H3N2 - the more severe strain causing the majority of cases.

However, Dr. Glenn Hardesty says get the shot, if you haven’t already. The emergency room physician at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital talked about the vaccine and the flu season in this edition of KERA’s consumer health series, Vital Signs. 

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If you’re searching for a stocking stuffer, flu medicine might not be a bad idea. Normally flu cases in North Texas spike after the Christmas holidays. This year, the virus has come early.

Texas Department of State Health Services

Don’t turn to the medicine cabinet for cough relief. Turn to the kitchen cabinet.

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: the death toll from the flu is climbing; a legendary Fort Worth mayor has died; Lake Highlands native St. Vincent has released a new song; and more.

U.S. Senate

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Ted Cruz says “No, Canada;” Harold Simmons has died; the flu is hitting Texas hard, and more:

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As we enter influenza season, the flu is hitting Texas hardest, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Its website shows that levels of the illness are higher in Texas and Mississippi than all other states. That’s as of the latest report from the last week of November.

The Texas Tribune

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst calls for President Obama’s impeachment, closing arguments in Mark Cuban’s insider-trading case, an early flu death and more.

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Senior citizens will have some extra protection this flu season: A new “high dose” version of the flu vaccine intended the boost the immune system of people 65 and older. In this installment of KERA’s Vital Signs, Dr. Adam McDaniel, an internist with Centennial Medical Center, explains how the new vaccine works.

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Flu vaccine is in limited supply at Tarrant County Public Health Centers this week, and Dallas County reports shortages of pediatric doses.  The demand is high as flu cases rise in North Texas.

Dallas County health officials confirm the third flu-related death of the season: six-year-old Tahila Johnson. 

Dallas County Health officials say they cannot confirm a flu death.  Health Department director Zach Thompson says the Medical Examiner must determine cause of death, and that may take time.  He says until then, the girl’s death cannot be attributed to flu.

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Dr. Jeffrey Kahn at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas says the ER has been flooded with young flu patients over the past two weeks.

"We’re seeing so much influenza right now that we are no longer testing for influenza. Or, I should say we’re only testing under very specific circumstances," said Kahn.  " So, right now when he see children in the Children’s Emergency Department with an influenza-like illness, it’s very likely they have flu.”

5 Key Questions In The Race Against Flu

Dec 12, 2012
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Health officials say get a flu shot if you haven’t done so. The virus arrived early, hitting Texas and four other southern states harder than other regions. In this segment of Vital Signs, Dr. Shantala Samart, an infectious disease specialist with Methodist Charlton Medical Center, talks about the flu strains being seen in Texas and why the virus showed up early.

The deadliest West Nile season in North Texas is coming to an end. In Tarrant County, environmental health manager David Jefferson says the numbers of human cases and infected mosquitoes have dropped significantly.