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10 flu-related deaths confirmed in Dallas County, health officials say

Flu season typically peaks around January or February and could last as late as May, health officials say.

DALLAS — Updated 8:05 p.m. Friday with confirmation of the latest flu death.

Nine adults and a child have died in Dallas County during the 2019-2020 flu season, according to the Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services. 

In addition to the nine adult victims, confirmation is pending from the medical examiner’s office on other possible influenza-deaths, DCCHS said. 

On Friday, the medical examiner's office confirmed one of the victims was a child. She was a 16-year-old from Dallas, according to health department officials. 

According to the American Lung Association, flu season typically peaks around January or February and could last as late as May.

Health department officials say the Influzena B/Victoria viruses are the most predominant strains circulating this season.

"The flu is more than just 'a bad cold.' It's a serious respiratory illness, that's easily spread from person to person, usually when the person with the flu coughs or sneezes," said Holly Motteram, executive director of the American Lung Association in Dallas.

Emergency calls for flu-related symptoms have been on the rise in Tarrant County, according to Medstar.

The first half of January set a record for the number of patients per day reporting serious flu-like symptoms to Medstar. On average, Medstar is responding to 11 patients per day, a 52.3% increase over last year.

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The current strains that are circulating are "slightly genetically different" from the strain in this season’s vaccine, but people are still encouraged to get a vaccine to help control symptoms. 

The ALA released the following tips on how to fight the flu: 

1. Get vaccinated now (if you haven't already)

Influenza vaccine effectiveness can vary from year to year. However, vaccination is still one of the best ways to protect yourself and those around you from the flu, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get an annual influenza vaccination. 

Pneumonia can be a deadly complication related to the flu. 

Talk to your doctor about whether you should also consider getting vaccinated for pneumonia.

2. Get prompt medical attention if you develop flu symptoms

Flu symptoms often appear suddenly. People at higher risk of complications, such as those with chronic lung disease, should seek prompt medical attention.

Treatment may include antiviral medicine which can reduce flu symptoms if started within a day or two of getting sick. Symptoms of influenza can include:

  • High fever
  • Headache, muscle aches and joint pain
  • Cough (usually dry)
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion and runny nose
  • Fatigue

 3. Help stop the spread of the flu

Help prevent other people from catching your flu. 

Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing. 

Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; and clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu. 

Stay home from work, school and public places when you are sick. 

The period when a person with the flu is contagious and can pass it on to others varies depending on the age and health of the person. 

In general, most healthy people are contagious beginning one day before their own flu symptoms appear, and will remain contagious five to seven days after becoming sick.

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