A 49-year-old Lancaster woman has died from the flu, and hospitals are reporting a huge increase in the number of flu cases.
Dallas County health officials said the woman was sick with the flu and a bacterial infection called MRSA.
Health department officials did not have any reported flu-related deaths last year. But Dr. John Carlo, of the department's medical director, said keeping flu statistics is difficult because hospitals and other facilities do not have to report their cases.
"Unfortunately, the flu is not really reportable, so we don't get all flu infections, especially the ones in adults that ultimately cause death." he said.
Carlo said close to 36,000 Americans die every year from the flu.
Cook Children's Hospital said it has seen 547 cases of the flu, the majority of which were reported in the last two weeks.
Dr. Jason Terk said there are two types of influenza, both of which hit at the same time this year. Type A usually comes in early January, with Type B arriving in late February.
"Often times we have a break between influenza A and influenza B season," Terk said. "We're getting hit pretty hard."
Symptoms of the flu are coughing, sneezing, runny nose, headaches and body aches. Terk said the virus can spread easily if people are not careful.
"It's all about keeping your hands clean and good hygeine," he said.
But doctors say prevention is of the upmost importance and stress the importance of vaccinating children.
"Every year we have otherwise healthy children who have no risk factors die from the flu," Terk said. "It's terribly important to get the vaccine."
Terk said it is not too late to get vaccinated. The flu season does not end until late March or early April. Terk also said people will not get sick from the vaccine, a common myth.