Six flu-related deaths reported in Dallas County, total now 49

Dallas County reported six new flu-related deaths on Friday, bringing the total for this season to 49.

The patients were ages 48-98 and lived in Dallas, DeSoto, Irving, Lancaster. All had high-risk health conditions and died from complications from the flu.

“Older adults, individuals with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, young children and infants are more vulnerable to flu illness,” said Dr. Christopher Perkins, Dallas County Health and Human Services. “With influenza activity on the rise, individuals in these groups should take special precaution as we continue throughout the season.”

Tarrant County is now reporting 21 flu deaths, up dramatically from the last report of three deaths. But Tarrant officials said those cases are spread over several weeks, going back to December.

JPS Hospital says this month the hospital has already had almost 1,500 people test positive for flu. JPS had to set up a special flu clinic to ease the pressure on its emergency room.

There have been six flu-related deaths in Collin County and five in Denton County.

"Some of the ERs have seen 20 percent of patients they’re seeing having influenza-like illness,” explained Russell Jones with Tarrant County Public Health. “That's pretty heavy."

So many people are sick with the flu that it's caused a shortage of blood donors in North Texas and across the country.

Doctors can help patients feel better with medication, but you could get sick again. Type B flu is early this year and on the rise in the DFW area. It’s hitting while Type A is still peaking.

"You can get Flu A, and Flu B can get you later,” Jones explained.

The health department says a study shows the flu can be especially dangerous for people with certain underlying health conditions.