More than 2,300 flu-related deaths reported in Texas, more to be counted, official says

AUSTIN – The number of reported flu-related deaths in Texas this season has risen to more than 2,300, state data shows, and an official said there's still more to be counted.

According to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services, there were 1,155 flu/pneumonia-related deaths counted from Oct. 1 to Jan. 10.

Just one week later, the number of deaths reported caused the figure to soar to 2,355 deaths, with individuals over 65 accounting for half of the flu-related deaths this season.

DSHS obtains death data through death certificates and according to the state, delays in the reporting of deaths "may cause the number of reported (pneumonia/flu) deaths to vary considerably each week."

Lara Anton, a spokesperson for DSHS said there is a several-week backlog in the reporting of flu-related deaths because it can take weeks for officials to send death certificates to DSHS and for those death certificates to be sent to the CDC to be coded, then sent back.

Anton said January deaths have not yet been added to the total of flu-related deaths this flu season, and that the total number of flu-related deaths is "significantly higher" than the number reported in the weekly flu surveillance reports.

Hospitals and laboratories have also seen an increase in positive flu tests, data shows. 

There were also 26 newly reported outbreaks of the flu in six different regions. According to DSHS, the 26 outbreaks "occurred during different weeks throughout the season, but were reported during week 02."

Outbreaks were reported at long-term care facilities, a dorm for the homeless, a correctional facility and at schools. Majority of the outbreaks reported occurred at long-term care facilities.

The Center for Disease Control is encouraging people to get a flu shot as the epidemic wreaks havoc on the nation. According to the CDC, the "best way to reduce your risk of getting sick with seasonal flu and spreading it to others," is to get a flu shot.

Editor's note: This story initially stated 1,200 flu-related deaths had been reported in a week. DSHS said their data is reported as it is received from the CDC, which can be weeks after the death occurred, and weekly surveillance data should not be interpreted as the number of deaths that occurred that week.