Collin County reported its first flu-related death Monday. Health officials say a Plano woman in her late 50s has died.

Dallas County is reporting 26 deaths and Denton County stands at three.

Many of the North Texas flu deaths have been linked to the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu. Texas actually has one of the highest rates of infection in the country.

For this week’s Vital Signs, Dr. Steve Davis, medical director of infectious disease at Baylor, Irving about this more severe strain of flu… and who’s most likely to get it. 

The KERA radio story.

1. What Is It?

There are thousands of different kinds of viruses that can cause the flu, but H1N1 is behind 80% of the flu infections this year in Texas. H1N1 made headlines in 2009 when the World Health Organization declared the nasty bug a pandemic. This year’s swine flu is identical to the 2009 virus, and is a variation of the one that caused the massive 1918 epidemic.

2. How Deadly Is It?

In 2009, no vaccine was initially available for H1N1 — this year’s  flu vaccine protects from the swine flu.

From the time the outbreak began in April 2009 through April 2010, the CDC estimates that about 60 million Americans became infected with the H1N1 virus. Of those, approximately 12,000 died in the U.S. The CDC also reported that between 151,700 and 575,400 people died worldwide from the 2009 virus during the first year it circulated.

Swine flu hit young people especially hard in 2009. The CDC estimates 80% of the 2009 H1N1 deaths were among people younger than 65 — which is drastically different from typical epidemics, during which the vast majority of deaths occur in people 65 years of age and older.

3. What Should You Do? 

Officials with the CDC advise anyone who has not yet received a flu shot to get the vaccine — peak flu season is still to come.