Lehigh Valley

Death toll continues to rise from flu strain

The number of people that have died from the flu this season continues to rise. From the super-fit and a smiling 6-year-old to 36-year-old Tandi Harmon of Portland, Oregon. 

"She posted on Facebook 'dang, I caught the darn flu,'" said her boyfriend.

For each, the flu turned deadly even when they were sent home after first being diagnosed by a doctor.

Head of Emergency and Hospital Medicine for LVHN Dr. Dave Burmeister says this is the worst flu season in a decade.

"One of the issues we deal with on a regular basis is patients get particularly sick with influenza and get a bacterial super infection," he said.

Which Burmeister says can turn deadly, especially for those with chronic health issues.

"It attacks your immune system and you get a bacterial infection after that. That is what you need to worry about," he added.

A surge tent has been erected at LVHN to treat the influx of patients with any respiratory illness. The surge tent has been up for three weeks and has had 400 patients.

Compare that to the last time it was at the hospital in 2013 when there were only 100 patients.

Doctors say who the flu hits and how hard is still an inexact science.

However, little kids, senior citizens and pregnant women are the most susceptible.

Burmeister stresses the importance of being vaccinated despite it not being as effective against N3H2, the season's most severe strain.

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