At least 10 people in the Houston area are reportedly dead from the flu virus this winter.
According to reports from various city and county health officials, the victims include two women from Houston, three people from Harris County, two from Galveston County and three from Montgomery County, including two county jail inmates.
The youngest victim is said to be a Harris County woman in her 40s, while the oldest was a Montgomery County man in his 70s.
Officials from Fort Bend and Chambers Counties remain yet to release any information on flu-related fatalities in their jurisdictions.
One of the victims, Robert Montes, 55, of Harris County, reportedly died of a heart attack brought on by a combination of the flu virus and diabetes; doctors said they believe flu-related respiratory ailments strained his heart, already weakened due to his diabetes.
Health experts say least three of the flu-related deaths reported, including the two in Galveston County, are believed to be caused by worsening of pre-existing conditions.
Dr. Michael Chang, a specialist in infectious disease at Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center/UTHealth, told a local TV station the flu can cause further complications in patients with pre-existing conditions:
“That’s kind of that cascade,” Dr. Chang said. “Flu can affect the heart directly, or it can affect it indirectly.”
While the number of cases in local emergency rooms is said to be declining, the flu season is still far from over.
Dr. Chang said he advises patients who visit an emergency room or urgent care center stay cautious:
“Just because you got discharged home from the emergency room or the urgent care center doesn’t mean you can’t go back,” Dr. Chang said further.
Despite claims related to the ineffectiveness of an immunization, with several weeks left in the flu season, doctors are still advising patients to get their flu shots.
Patients with pre-existing conditions should also see their physicians to learn more about how they can protect themselves.