A 61-year old female is Galveston County’s first flu-related death of the 2017-2018 flu season. The woman, who had pre-existing health conditions, died in mid-January.
This is first flu-related death of a Galveston County resident reported to GCHD since a child died from flu complications in 2014.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to this woman and her family,” said Galveston County Local Health Authority Dr. Philip Keiser. “Our goal in announcing this tragedy is to highlight how dangerous the flu can be and how important it is to be vaccinated against the virus.”
People 6-months and older should be vaccinated for the flu. Those 65 and older, pregnant women, young children and people with chronic health conditions are at higher risk for serious complications or even death if they get the flu.
“While it’s vital for people at high-risk to get vaccinated, it’s also very important for those who consider themselves healthy to get the vaccine,” Dr. Keiser continued. “Across the United States this season, the virus has claimed the lives of people who do not necessarily fall into those high-risk categories.”
So far this flu season, 3,527 confirmed cases of the flu have been reported to GCHD, compared to just 455 during the same period last year. The trend in Galveston County is consistent with widespread flu activity across the country.
Symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches and fatigue. People with a combination of these symptoms should promptly see their medical provider.
“It’s frustrating to hear some people say they’re not getting the shot because they think it’s not ‘worth it’,” said Keiser. “While it’s true some people who get the shot will still get the flu, the vaccine can reduce the severity of symptoms for people who get the virus.”
In addition to vaccination, people should help stop the spread of the flu and other illness by covering all coughs and sneezes, washing their hands frequently, disinfecting commonly touched surfaces and staying at home when sick.
“Being vaccinated and practicing good hygiene not only protects you, it helps protect the vulnerable populations around you,” Dr. Keiser said.
While flu spreads every year, the timing, severity, and length of the season varies from one year to another. Flu outbreaks typically happen as early as October and can last as late as May.
GCHD continues to offer no-cost flu vaccine at its Texas City immunization clinic and several off-site locations, while supplies last. Information is available at www.gchd.org/flu.