The City of El Paso Department of Public Health announced Wednesday morning that the number of flu-related deaths has risen to four so far this season.
The three latest fatalities include a middle-aged man and woman, both of whom had underlying medical conditions. The third was a young adult male with no known underlying medical conditions.
Although the health department would not reveal any details on the young man's death, even age, Cinemark confirmed to ABC-7 that the young man who died is 21-year-old Rene Delgado.
Delgado worked concessions at the Cinemark movie theater located at 7440 Remcon. The theater is set to have a vigil in Delgado's honor Wednesday night.
The City's first flu-related death this season was a middle-aged man who died earlier this month. Newly released test results show that he did in fact have underlying medical issues.
"What we are seeing right now is that H1N1 is the predominant strain of the virus in our area," said Fernando Gonzalez, Lead Epidemiologist. "We need everyone in the community to realize that the flu vaccine can significantly reduce the chances of you getting the flu, and reduce the effects the virus may have on your health," he said. Gonzalez also pointed out that there were more flu cases and four deaths at this time last year. El Paso residents are encouraged to get a flu vaccine if they haven't already. It is estimated that this year's flu season should peak in February.
In addition to the flu vaccine, health department officials are asking residents to practice the "4 C's". These recommendations have proven to be effective in preventing the spread of the flu virus.
CLEAN-Wash your hands often. Scrub your hands for at least 30 seconds with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
COVER-Cover your cough. Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Don't have a tissue? The crook of your elbow will do.
CONTAIN-Contain germs by steering clear of others who are sick. If you do get sick, stay home until you're well again, so you don't spread more germs.
CALL-Call or see your doctor if you or your child has a fever of greater than 100 degrees.
In addition to this advice, the Department's Immunization Program is also offering flu vaccines to children ages six months to 18-years-old who do not have health insurance and who meet eligibility requirements. The cost is $10.00. The Department stocks only a limited amount of adult vaccines and the cost is $25.00-$35.00. Clients are urged to contact the clinic of their choice to verify availability of both the children's and adult vaccines prior to their visit. Residents may also consult with their primary care provider or a local retail outlet of their choice in order to obtain the adult vaccine.
For more information on preventing the flu visit: www.EPHealth.com and click on the flu prevention page. In addition, agencies or organizations interested in a Speakers Bureau presentation may click on the Special Projects tab and request a presentation on flu prevention.