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Swine Flu in Houston?

Mystery killer illness solved? Officials think they finally might have an answer, but it's hardly encouraging

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President Barack Obama receives H1N1 vaccination on Dec. 20, 2009
President Barack Obama receives H1N1 vaccination on Dec. 20, 2009 The Official White House Photostream/Wikipedia
H1N1 Montgomery County influenze flu test
One of four area patients currently stricken with an unknown illness has tested positive for H1N1 . . . but the mystery continues. Courtesy of KHOU Ch. 11
H1N1 influenza virus
The potent H1N1 virus unleashed its fury in 2009 during a global flu outbreak. CDC Influenza Laboratory/Wikipedia
Dathany Reed died from mysterious illness in Montgomery County December 2013
Montgomery County resident Dathany Reed, 41, died of the mystery bug in a matter of days. Photo courtesy of KHOU Houston Channel 11/Family photoU
President Barack Obama receives H1N1 vaccination on Dec. 20, 2009
H1N1 Montgomery County influenze flu test
H1N1 influenza virus
Dathany Reed died from mysterious illness in Montgomery County December 2013

The Montgomery County Public Health District confirms that one of four patients currently stricken with a mysterious and deadly flu-like illness has tested positive for H1N1 — the debilitating and potentially lethal virus behind the so-called "swine flu" pandemic of 2009.

In recent weeks, doctors at Conroe Regional Hospital have seen eight cases of an unknown illness that begins with influenza-like symptoms before leading to serious complications, including organ failure. So far, four people ranging in age from 41 to 65 have died.

But while one survivor has H1N1, the mystery is far from solved . . . The two other living patients have tested negative for the virus, while a fourth awaits further lab results.

H1N1 has been incl uded in North American flu vaccines since the 2009 global outbreak.

The county health district now has turned to more sophisticated and costly laboratory testing, setting aside popular rapid diagnostics tests that prove less reliable in detecting H1N1 in adults. The organization will work with the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Center for Disease Control as investigations continue.

H1N1 has been included in North American flu vaccines since the 2009 global outbreak. The four deceased patients in Montgomery County were not known to have received the vaccination, according to officials.

Derrick Goodwill, a physician assistant at the Conroe Urgent Care Clinic, tells KHOU Ch. 11 his team sees at least five to seven people testing positive for H1N1 each day, a huge spike since the start of the Texas flu season in October. All patients are recommended to take the Tamiflu antiviral, even if they test negative for the strain.

KHOU notes that H1N1 cases have been reported in Harris County as well.

State health officials recommend that all Texans six months or older should get vaccinated as flu season reaches its peak in December, January and February. Children aged six months to eight years who didn't receive last year's shot should get two doses this year. Consult your doctor or visit TexasFlu.org for more information.

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