US state confirms 20 flu deaths

Washington, Jan 8: Health officials confirmed at least 20 people have died from flu, mostly H1N1 influenza, in north Texas this season, media reported Tuesday.

The tally was made by health departments in Dallas county, Denton county and Tarrant county, all in north Texas, Xinhua quoted local media KHOU as saying in a report.

Hospitals confirm eight deaths in Dallas county, and another nine positive flu cases have been logged by the medical examiner’s office. Denton county reported two deaths. Tarrant county has had one death linked to the flu.

All of the Dallas victims were adults while a child was among the two victims in Denton. Hospitals across north Texas have been seeing a “rapidly” increasing number of patients with flu-related cases, according to the report.

Health officials are advising people to take vaccines and keeping a close eye on the flu cases. Adult flu-related deaths are being tracked locally for the first time in Dallas. Previously, only pediatric flu deaths were reported to local, state and federal authorities.

In Houston, Texas’ largest city, at least 13 people have died from H1N1 virus as of late December.

Officials throughout the US are warning of elevated flu activity in coming weeks. Texas, Alabama, Louisiana and New York remain hotbeds for flu activity. The biggest concern is the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, which swept through many countries previously.

The flu pandemic in the US began in the spring of 2009. The virus had spread to the US from an outbreak in Mexico. As of mid-March 2010, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that about 59 million Americans contracted the H1N1 virus, 265,000 were hospitalised as a result, and 12,000 died.

IANS