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County suffers third flu death

Profile image for By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer
By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer

Elderly woman from Highland Village had underlying health issues

An 80-year-old woman from Highland Village has become the third Denton County resident to die from the flu.

County health officials said late Friday that the woman had underlying health issues and that they did not know if she had a flu vaccination.

The other victims who have died this flu season include an elderly man and a 13-year-old girl, both from Carrollton. Chris Waskom, the ministry leader of Open Range Cowboy Church of North Texas near Krum, died from flu and pneumonia on New Year’s Eve. As a Slidell resident, his death was the first flu-related death reported in Wise County.

The latest flu surveillance report from the Texas Department of State Health Services, released Jan. 3 and working with data that is voluntarily reported, shows that the outbreak is widespread throughout the state.

Most of the virus samples show that influenza A, or H1N1, known as swine flu, is the more prevalent strain, state records show.

Juan Rodriguez, Denton County Health Department’s chief epidemiologist, said that strain disproportionately affects young and middle-aged adults.

State and local officials are continuing to recommend that people get a flu shot, although it takes about two weeks for the vaccination to be fully effective. The shots are free at the county health clinics.

People have been flooding into local clinics for flu shots, although the county does not have specific numbers, said Sarah McKinney, spokeswoman for the department.

“We’ve seen a huge surge,” McKinney said. “We think the icy weather may have delayed it for some people, and then the holidays came and went.”

The department will continue to give the shots for free until they are gone, she said.

Flu shots are available at both the Denton and Lewisville clinics from 7 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and from 7 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Fridays.

The Denton clinic is located at 535 S. Loop 288, Suite 1003, and can be reached at 940-349-2900. The Lewisville clinic is located at 190 N. Valley Parkway, Suite 203, and can be reached at 972-434-4700.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.