A lab technician at Scott & White Hospital tests a sample to determine whether it’s positive for flu. (Photo by Rachel Cox/file)
BELL COUNTY (January 2, 2014) Bell County Public Health District officials confirmed Thursday that an area resident has died of the flu.
Lacy Sanders, the county's disease surveillance coordinator, confirmed that a Coryell County man said to be in his 60s died in late December at the Temple Veteran's Administration Hospital of the flu.
It was the first confirmed flu death in Central Texas, Sanders said.
The victim suffered from a compromised immune system, but Sanders could not elaborate on the condition.
It also was not known if the man had received a flu shot.
A second man, in his 50s, from Holland, continues to fight for life in the Intensive Care Unit at Scott & White Hospital, Sanders said.
He has been battling the disease for several weeks.
He was not vaccinated, Sanders said Thursday.
Local officials say they're battling four strains of influenza this year, including Flu A, Flu B, H1N1 and a fourth type that was not named.
States are required to report only pediatric flu deaths, but as many as 20 deaths have been confirmed in the Houston area alone.
According to published reports, deaths have been reported in Euless, Austin, Dallas, and Beaumont, as well.
The McLennan County Health District reported 349 cases of flu in mid-December and there were 206 reported in Bell County during the same time period.
Kelly Craine with the McLennan County Public Health District said the same spike is being reported around the state and the country, but said health officials haven't seen a comparable increase in H1N1 cases since 2009.
Both Craine and Sanders said this year the illness is more aggressive and is spreading more quickly.
Craine said it's still not too late to get a flu shot.
Health officials say in particular that pregnant women, the elderly, and children should be vaccinated.
Sanders said the flu shot requires about two weeks for the body to build immunity against the illness and the flu mist requires about a week.