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AUSTIN -- So far this flu season, seven people are confirmed dead from the H1N1 virus, and at least 14 people are in critical condition.

We're seeing an unusually high volume of influenza and influenza-like illness now, said St. David s South Austin infectious disease physician Dr. Matthew Robinson.

All of the confirmed fatalities are from the Houston and Dallas area. However, Dr. Robinson says many cases in Austin have been serious.

It seems to be widely circulating now and has the potential to cause some fairly severe disease, he said.

H1N1 is particularly dangerous because it can affect people who are younger, like a 41-year old father of three, one of at least six people who died in Houston this month, less than a week after he started feeling sick.

This is the greatest and hardest thing I have ever had to face in my whole life, said his mother, Odessa Reed.

Near Dallas, 30-year-old Dustin Wright also died of H1N1 this month, after 10 days in the hospital.

In both cases, neither man had gotten a flu shot.

I'll never look at this, ever, the same ever again. Always just get your flu shot, because you never know, said Wright s widow, Ashley Wright.

As for Austin, influenza is fairly widespread at this point in Texas, and we've certainly seen our share of cases here locally, said Dr. Robinson. Unfortunately, I do expect to hear of more deaths.

Vaccines are still available and take at least a week to start working.

Flu activity most commonly peaks in January or February. However, seasonal flu activity can continue to occur as late as May.





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