Medical Examiners Investigating Multiple Deaths Suspected to be Flu-Related

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - Chances are, you or someone you know has gotten the flu this season.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) said thousands have come down with the annual illness around the country, and the illness is still spreading even to areas like the panhandle.

With fear of the flu virus spreading further into schools, Bay Dist. schools will take advantage of students being out on Wednesday by giving each school a good cleaning.

We've heard it time and time again. Vigorous hand-washing and getting the flu shot can protect you from a sickness nobody wants.

"We had such a low number of people getting vaccinated in the community," Doug Kent, Bay County's Dept. of Health administrator, said.

He said many who die from the flu already had pre-existing sicknesses or an already low immune system. "You can't just assume because of a death. It may have been because that particular person had more complications."

The panhandle's District 14 Medical Examiner Office told News 13 that's why they're investigating about eight possible flu-related deaths in our area. 

Kent says it's not easy to determine if the deaths were directly caused by the flu.

"You just can not blame it strictly on the flu virus," he said.

Pregnant women, seniors, and children are most vulnerable to the flu.

Bay Dist. schools plan to take action against the virus this week.
In a statement sent out Monday, the district said it will disinfect schools Wednesday while kids are out for a teacher work day.

For now, it's not too late to get the vaccine.

"This shows how important it is to actually take the vaccine each year," Kent said.

He said we're at the peak of the flu season and should start seeing it subside within the next two months.

The medical examiner said hopes to have more concrete numbers and the results of the flu tests next week. 

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