VIDEO: Third Smith County flu death reported

Published on Monday, 27 January 2014 16:59 - Written by

By COSHANDRA DILLARD, cdillard@tylerpaper.com

The flu season may have seen its peak, but the virus still lurks in the community, health officials note.

East Texas Medical Center announced this morning that they’d had another flu-related death, bringing the count to two at the hospital and a total of three for Smith County. There have also been four flu-related deaths in Gregg County this season, according to Northeast Texas Public Health officials.

With the exception of pediatric cases, the flu is not a reportable disease, but some hospitals and clinics voluntarily report them.

Through December, Tyler hospitals had an influx of emergency department visits related to flu and other respiratory illnesses. According to figures released by East Texas Medical Center, flu cases appear to be dropping. They went from 59 during the week of Dec. 22 at its two Tyler emergency departments to nine during the week of Jan. 19.

Health officials continue to encourage getting a flu shot, staying home while sick and hand washing as ways to prevent the spread of the flu.

“We saw a peak, so hopefully we’ll start to see a drop off in the numbers,” said Stephanie Taylor, director of community outreach and assistance at NET Health. “Personal prevention is still the key and there’s still time to get flu shots.”

Mrs. Taylor said there were 45 doses of the flu vaccine available at the health district. She said a reorder depends on the advice from state health officials as they continue to monitor flu activity.