DALLAS — The flu is spreading rapidly across North Texas, and more cases are proving deadly.
Hospitals confirm eight deaths in Dallas County, and another nine positive flu cases have been logged by the medical examiner's office.
Denton County now reports two deaths — a child and an elderly man. Tarrant County has had one death linked to the flu.
Concern has sent patients by the hundreds to area hospitals and clinics. For the Alanzo family of Addison, it was going to be a late night for their one-and-a-half year old, Jacob.
“We tried to put him to bed early, but he woke up really, really hot and sweaty," said dad Erick Alanzo, who wanted to be sure about Jacob's health. "Maybe he doesn’t have any flu symptoms or anything."
They brought him to Medical City's Acute Kids clinic in Plano to see if, in fact, he’s fighting the flu. Doctors say the virus is serious this season, especially in Dallas, where the number of flu related deaths now totals 17.
“The difference is that we’re taking about the H1N1 virus, and that is the concern because that virus — as we know from 2009 — was very deadly,” said Dallas County health director Zach Thompson.
Local hospitals confirm eight of those people died because of the flu. The medical examiner confirmed the other nine, whose primary cause of death was a respiratory illness, but all tested positive for influenza.
All of the Dallas County victims were adults, but health officials are worried about children becoming dangerously ill in the coming months.
“As kids go back to school tomorrow, they will be congregating in certain areas, so we are asking parents not to send sick kids to school,” Thompson said.
It sounds simple, but doctors say that can keep more kids and families — like the Alanzos — in good health.
This year's flu shot specifically fights against the H1N1 strain. Dallas County still has a couple of thousand doses available, and Thompson said he's looking at bringing in more children's vaccines so there are plenty as we weather the rest of flu season.