The flu has claimed more than two-dozen lives across Dallas-Fort Worth this flu season.
Dallas County on Thursday announced three elderly people -- ages 78, 87 and 98 -- died of the flu, bringing the county's total to 26 for the season.
Earlier Thursday, Denton County reported its first two flu-related deaths of the season. One of those victims was a child and the other was an adult. No additional information was provided.
County officials encouraged people to get vaccinated in the wake of the season's first flu deaths there.
“Our surveillance has indicated increased flu activity in recent weeks, and we anticipate high activity for the next several weeks,” said Juan Rodriguez, Assistant Director and Chief Epidemiologist with Denton Public Health. “It is important for residents to be proactive in practicing prevention through receiving the flu vaccine and taking action to prevent the spread of disease.”
On Wednesday, Dallas County health officials announced five flu-related deaths, bringing the total to 23 this flu season. Tarrant County on Wednesday reported their first three flu-related deaths of the season.
It all brings back painful reminders for Julie Wooten Shelley, an Arlington woman.
In early 2014, she found herself at JPS Hospital in a coma as her body was shutting down.
"I walked in and said 'I can't breath. I cannot breath.' Really, that was the last thing I remember," said Shelley.
What had started out a simple flu evolved into pneumonia and Sepsis.
It was later confirmed she'd contracted H1N1, which hit North Texas hard that season.
"I really had to learn how to walk a bit when I got out. My vision was terrible. It has come back a little bit," she said. "I still have memory loss."
The ages of the Dallas County patients who died were 94, 38, 93, 89 and 71, according to a Dallas County Health and Human Services news release. All patients had "high risk health conditions," the news release said.
The three Tarrant County deaths involved senior adults ages 55 or over who had underlying medical conditions.
Flu: Myths vs. facts
Influenza deaths in adults aren't usually reported to local health departments, but pediatric deaths are, Hanes said. This means there could be more deaths than the three that are being reported.
“It’s safe to say that we are currently experiencing a flu outbreak and these three voluntarily reported flu-related deaths reflect that,” Chief Epidemiologist Russell Jones said. “This season is a mirrored reflection of 2013-2014, which was one of the more serious flu seasons of the past decade.
Recognizing the early symptoms of this disease and consulting your healthcare provider, so you can get on an antiviral medicine like Tamiflu or Relenza, is advice that could lessen the severity of the disease for you.”