13 Dead In Houston: A Grim Reminder That The Flu Can Kill

A Houston teenager succumbed to the flu virus this week, bringing the H1N1 death toll in Houston to 13, according to the local KHOU.

H1N1, often called the swine flu, has been the most prevalent strain so far this season, CDC officials told HealthDay.

This is the very same strain that caused a flu pandemic in 2009, which researchers now estimate may have been responsible for as many as 200,000 deaths worldwide — and possibly even more.

While many flu strains tend to be most deadly in older adults, H1N1 can also be critical in young, healthy people: It killed a 27-year-old mother in Florida two weeks ago.

But there’s no need to panic: This year’s flu vaccine protects against H1N1, and it’s not too late to get vaccinated.

Only 40 per cent of adults had gotten a flu vaccine by early November, the CDC reported.

As of last week, 6.7 per cent of all deaths in the U.S. were due to influenza and pneumonia, below the epidemic level of 6.9 per cent.

Texas is one of 10 states where flu activity is already “widespread,” meaning there’s evidence of the flu in at least half the counties in the state. (The other states with the highest flu activity were Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wyoming. See map at left.)

But since the flu usually peaks between January and March, it’s better to get your vaccine now. Last year, the CDC estimates, it kept 79,000 people out of the hospital.

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