East Texas Death Attributed to H1N1 Virus

Public health officials in East Texas say an illness that may have sickened at least eight people, including four deaths, has been attributed in one case to the H1N1 virus.

In a statement from the Montgomery County Hospital District and Public Health District on Wednesday, spokeswoman Jennifer Nichols-Contella said none of the four patients who died had received a flu shot, which protects against the H1N1 virus. Among the others, two patients tested negative for all flu viruses and one was diagnosed with H1N1.

In North Texas, Dallas County Health and Human Services data reports that approximately 15 percent of influenza cases tested in Dallas County are testing positive for the H1N1 strand of the virus.

Dr. Cedric Spak, an infectious diseases doctor with Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, said the good news is that this year’s vaccine contains elements to fight H1N1.

“It seems that the vaccine has accurately predicted those that are coming. So prior years maybe it wasn’t as accurate as it could have been but it appears this year’s vaccine will probably be more effective that in the past,” Dr. Spak said.

Dr. Spak also said people should get their flu shot to protect against the virus. He noted that even with a flu shot, patients can still get the flu, but the vaccine can lessen the toll it takes on the body.

The Houston Chronicle reports eight cases this month were reported by Conroe Regional Hospital, about 40 miles north of Houston. The Texas Department of State Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating.

NBC 5's Omar Villafranca contributed to this report.

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