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County marks seventh flu-related death

Profile image for By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer
By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer

A 50-year-old Aubrey area woman has died from the flu, becoming the seventh flu-related death in Denton County this season, according to the Denton County Health Department.

The woman had underlying medical conditions and had not had a flu shot, according to Health Director Bing Burton.

The woman’s death this week comes as the flu season appears to be winding down in Denton County and across the nation. But it’s been a rough year for flu in the county, Burton said.

“Fatalities this year are a little higher,” he said. “The cases were a little bit less this year than last year but last year was a pretty significant outbreak.”

Exact numbers for 2009 were not available, but the county reported two deaths in the 2010-2011 season, none in 2011-2012 and three in 2012-2013. Flu seasons typically run from October to as late as May.

Burton said officials were attributing this year’s cases and deaths to an aggressive strain of the H1N1 influenza, known as swine flu.

“We have mentioned several times that the population impacted was more healthy adults this time than seniors,” he said. “That certainly is unusual for influenza.”

Burton said the exact number of flu cases in the county is not known, since reporting is voluntary for local hospitals unless it involves children. But he said the health department has administered about 6,000 flu shots this year, more doses than in previous years.

“We continue to encourage vaccination,” Burton said.

He said officials are looking to compare the mortality rate among those who had flu shots and those who did not, but he said the data is not yet back.

Initial assessments indicate that the number of cases in patients who were not vaccinated was four times higher than those who were.

“Our primary role is to encourage vaccination,” he said. “That is the best thing we can do. For the first time we have numbers that suggest that.”

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.