Flu Deaths Reported in Dallas County - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Flu Deaths Reported in Dallas County



    The Dallas County Health Department said Thursday two adults, a man in his 50s and a woman in her 60s have died from the flu, and 6-year-old Tahlia Johnson is now a confirmed flu death. (Published Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013)

    Dallas County said Thursday that the death of a 6-year-old girl who died the morning after she saw emergency-room doctors was flu-related.

    Tahlia Johnson's family found her unresponsive Tuesday morning. She had gone to the emergency room at Dallas Regional Medical Center in Mesquite on Monday with flu-like symptoms.

    Her father said doctors told them she didn't need a flu test.

    Zach Thompson, Dallas County health director, confirmed Thursday that Johnson died of a flu-related illness.

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    The county also reported that a man in his 50s died of flu-related symptoms this week.

    A woman older than 60 who died last month was the first reported adult death this season, but there could be unreported cases.

    Unlike with West Nile virus, adult flu-related deaths do not have to be reported to the health department, according to the medical examiner's office.

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    Pediatric flu-related deaths must be reported.

    High demand for flu shots

    Thompson said the recent deaths of Johnson and a Flower Mound teenager who died while on vacation in Minnesota are causing people to panic, creating a low supply of the flu vaccine.

    "You see a renewed interest in people coming in and getting the flu shots," he said. "What's happening, there's a low inventory, and everyone has to reorder."

    Max Schwolert, a senior at Flower Mound Marcus High School, died the day after Christmas during a family vacation in Minnesota after he was admitted to a hospital there with complications from the flu.

    "It started out as the flu, then went to pneumonia and a staph infection on top of that, so those three things combined and just took over very quickly," Michelle Schwolert, his aunt, said shortly after his death.

    Many school districts in Dallas County have sent home letters reminding parents about precautions to take to avoid the flu.

    Flu continues to spread

    Sick patients are filling up waiting rooms across North Texas.

    Dr. Jane Sadler at Baylor Garland said she is opening schedules and increasing staff at certain times to handle the influx of patients. She suggests that people who are not sick reschedule appointments for physicals because waiting rooms are full of sick people.

    Jennifer West said she had a tough time finding Tamiflu after her 4-year-old was diagnosed with the flu.

    "We had to go to five different pharmacies to find a pharmacy that finally had it in stock," she said.

    Sadler said North Texas needs bigger shipments of the antiviral drug.

    "The ability to get it to the store and maintain the numbers of Tamiflu needed in the community on the shelves at the pharmacy is where the problem is," she said.

    Thompson said students and adults who are sick should stay home to prevent spreading the illness.

    Demand for medical supplies expected to rise

    While the number of infected people rises, demand for basic medical supplies is expected to go up as well.

    "For us, it just means preparation," said Jennifer Wilson, the general manager of OneSource Medical, a major distributor of medical supplies based in Dallas.

    Wilson said her customers are primarily doctor's offices, clinics and school systems. She said she is expecting a rush in the days to come for items such as medical masks, gloves and disinfectant spray.

    "We haven't been yet, but I anticipate with it increasing and, with those numbers -- particularly in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and all over the country -- with deaths and the rates, our high demand will probably start within the next 72 hours," Wilson said.

    Dallas County Health and Human Services offers immunization clinics for children 18 or younger. Click here for locations and more information.