Public Health District tracks flu related deaths for the first time

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - The Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District has tracked the number of adult flu related deaths for the first time; they found that since the beginning of the year, 21 people have died in Wichita County.

The Public Health District felt it was important to release the numbers of adult deaths because they've been receiving lots of concerns since the flu has been so severe this season across the nation.

Flu deaths for adults isn't a reportable disease according to the CDC. So, the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District gathered information from local sources to determine how many have been affected in the area.

They had their epidemiologist look at death certificates from hospitals from January until earlier this month and pull data for both flu and pneumonia deaths.

Health Director Lou Kreidler says, "we use our syndromic surveillance methods – whether that's pharmacy data whether that's information that we get from the hospital or schools – to look at disease trends and determine what we believe is the influenza burden for our community"

With the information they have gathered they are also able compare rates of flu related deaths to the state and national level. They found that the rates have been lower than the state level and certainly lower than the national.

They feel the data they have gathered has given them a snapshot of how the community has been impacted by the flu.

Kreidler says they are starting to see a new wave of people that have contracted strain B of the flu.

Although the vaccination has only been 23% affective, she says it's still important to get the shot, "…even if you get a vaccine and you still get the flu, the chances are that you'll have a decreased case or that it won't last as long and that's much better than if you're not vaccinated at all.

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