Three die of H1N1 in Harris County; flu scare around Houston grows

By Jennifer Bauer - Reporter

HOUSTON - The flu scare is growing in the Houston area and the news is catching the attention of national officials.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius was in town Friday weighing in on the cases.

Chances are someone you know is sick right now because it's going around. Flu cases are popping up all over the area and most of them are the more serious strain called H1N1, which has led to multiple deaths.

Harris County is seeing its first three deaths related to the H1N1 virus. Officials with the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences said that three men between the ages of 45 and 53 died and test results confirmed the cause was H1N1.

Two of the patients had underlying health issues including cardiovascular disease and obesity.

Sebelius was here talking about the Affordable Care Act, but the conversation turned to the flu and H1N1 because that's what's on the minds of Texans right now.

"If you remember back when H1N1 broke out the first time it appeared in the south first and spread north," Sebelius said.

She said the south has been hardest this time, too. Right now the CDC is working closely with health officials in Texas to keep it from getting worse.

"We're trying to monitor the situation and make sure we can do everything we need to support the fact that it doesn't spread," said Sebelius.

That's what local doctors are doing, too. In Montgomery County, several people have been sick and screened for H1N1; two have tested positive.

In Harris County, officials say the majority of the flu cases are H1N1.

"We have seen a great deal of H1N1. In fact, 81 percent of the positive specimens we have looked at are H1N1," Kathy Barton with the Houston Department of Health and Human Services.

Doctors say if you start to experience flu-like symptoms get to a doctor right away.  The quicker you start taking medication, the better.

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