Doctors: Flu kills 9; whooping cough cases on rise - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Doctors: Flu kills 9; whooping cough cases on rise

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Texas health officials have linked nine deaths to the flu.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports about 95 percent of the Texas influenza cases are H1N1, which triggered the 2009 pandemic.

"The hope would be that since this H1N1 should be significantly similar to the one we saw in 2009, that most kids, people in general, would have some immunity to the H1N1 strain," said Dr. Matt Wilkinson, with Dell Children's Medical Center.

On December 20th, a confirmed death was attributed to the H1N1 influenza A virus. A second death is suspected to also be linked to flu-related complications.

"The amount of folks that get severe flu or fatal flu, it's a very small percentage of the population that gets infected with the virus," Wilkinson said.

Dr. Wilkinson says the H1N1 strain is included in this year's flu vaccine and so far, it's a good match.

"We've been using these vaccines for decades. They're safe. They're effective," said Wilkinson.

"Most of our clients they're against vaccinations, so when they come in here, that's the last thing they want to, you know, take," said Chief People's Pharmacy Pharmacist Kimberly Fontenot.

Vaccinations are not available at People's Pharmacy.

"The influenza, the homeopathic," said Fontenot.

"You can use this for prevention...and if you actually have the flu, then it's three to four pellets, three to four times a day."

The flu isn't the only culprit making people sick.

Wilkinson said, "Pertussis or whooping cough has been increasing, not necessarily this year, but sort of over the past six, seven, eight years."

He says there are several factors contributing to the rise.

"Most notably, is probably the movement to not vaccinate children," said Wilkinson. "As there are more cases around, there is more exposure to folks that may or may not have received a vaccine."

Some children may still get whooping cough even if they've had the vaccine.

"Some of the saddest things I've ever seen is a family of a child that chose not to vaccinate and then that child may come down with a severe form of one of these preventable diseases," said Wilkinson.

As far as vaccinations go, doctors recommend anyone 6 months or older get the flu shot.

Whooping cough is typically more dangerous for infants and young children.

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