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Four Flu Deaths Reported In Texas As Season Gets Early Start

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The Dallas County Health Department is reporting its first flu-related death.

Officials say a woman in her 60s with underlying health conditions recently passed away.

It was the fourth flu-related death in Texas.  The other three, including one in Tarrant County, have been children.

Flu season is off to an early start, and it could be a bad one.  "This year we are starting early and its climbing quickly," says Dr. Donald Murphey, an Infectious Disease Pediatrician at Cook Children's in Fort Worth "Last year this time we really didn't have much flu. Last year in general was a mild season."

At Cook Children's, doctors normally see 300 patients a day.   But in the last few days that number has doubled.

Along with the flu virus, there's also an uptick in RSV cases which is another respiratory virus.  Alicia Vallejo waited inside the Fort Worth children's hospital emergency room for more than four hours Friday afternoon.

Her 5-year-old daughter Jaedyn has been sick for three weeks now.  "This morning she had crawled in a ball complaining of stomach cramps with a fever," says Vallejo "She hasn't gotten much better."

It's the second trip to the emergency room this month for Jaedyn.  "I have a 3 month old and 3 year old at home it's tough," explains Vallejo.

Cook Children's treated 270 flu cases last week alone.  The week before it was 150.

At Children's Medical Center in Dallas it's been one of their busiest months.  Doctors say if you have a mild case of the flu treat it at home.  "We don't have capacity to take care of everybody in a surge like this where you have lots and lots of sick kids all at one time," explains Dr. Murphey.

Dr. Murphey says if you haven't gotten the flu shot then get it now and keep in mind it usually takes a few weeks for it to start working.

Also, doctors urge keeping your healthy kids at home and not exposing them to the illnesses.  Warning signs to look for in flu cases include a high fever, sore throat, aches and chills.  In kids, breathing problems can mean trouble or little interaction, irritability and a bluish skin color.

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