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Flu mystery stikes Pearland

Mysterious illness takes life of popular teacher in less than 24 hours

Tracie Burroughs Pearland teacher dies of flu flu-like symptoms February 2014
High school Spanish teacher Tracie Burroughs died Tuesday from a fast-moving flu-like illness. Photo courtesy of KHOU Houston/Channel 11
Pearland High School building exterior day
Burroughs was honored with the school's Teacher of the Year award in 2013. Wikimapia.org

Students at Pearland High School are mourning the loss of a popular teacher who died Tuesday from a still-undetermined illness resembling the flu.

Tracie Burroughs, who was honored with the school's 2013 Teacher of the Year award, came home from work on Monday afternoon with flu-like symptoms.

As the evening progressed and her condition steadily worsened, the 47-year old Spanish instructor was rushed to Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 4:15 a.m. the following morning.

Burroughs' husband tells KTRK Channel 13 his wife had not traveled recently, was not diabetic and had no known preexisting conditions — characteristics that normally put an individual at risk for serious complications from influenza. She leaves behind two children.

Burroughs came down with flu-like symptoms Monday afternoon and passed away early Tuesday  morning.

An autopsy report from the Harris County Medical Examiner's Office is pending as of Friday afternoon. It remains unknown if Burroughs received a flu vaccination.

The teacher's death comes just two months after a similarly fast-moving illness took the lives of at least four adults in the Conroe area. Though a medical mystery at first, officials later attributed the lethal Montgomery County bug to H1N1, the now-common strain behind the "swine flu" pandemic in 2009 and 2010.

In December, Rita Obey with the Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services Department told CultureMap that the current flu season has been busy but not unusual. She did note, however, that H1N1 tends to target middle-aged people as opposed to most other strains that threaten young children and the elderly.

To keep flu viruses at bay, Obey stressed the importance of getting the flu vaccine as well as common-sense approaches like regular hand-washing and staying at home when one is sick.

Funeral services for Burroughs are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Monday at Harvest Time Church (17770 Imperial Valley Drive). The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to her children's college fund through an account set up at Chase Bank.

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