Flu now considered widespread in Kansas, Missouri

KANSAS CITY. Mo - A dangerous strand of the H1N1 flu virus has infected hundreds and killed at least three people in recent weeks.

Andrew Hoehne of Sedalia, Mo., went to the doctor for a scheduled visit on December 26. On January 2, the newlywed and father of one died of the H1N1 flu virus at St. Luke's Hospital.

He's one of a number of people who have contracted a dangerous strand of the H1N1 flu virus.

Doctor Lee Norman is the Chief Medical Officer for the University of Kansas Hospital. He's seen hundreds of flu patients in recent weeks and said many are testing positive for the stronger, more dangerous H1N1 strand that attacks the lungs.

"They've got such a bad infection in their lungs that they can't oxygenate their blood enough to keep all of their vital organs going; that's the most obvious and the most severe symptom," Norman said.

He said those with chronic illnesses and young children are the most vulnerable.

At Children's Mercy Hospital, 34 percent of the children tested are testing positive for the flu. A 5-week-old baby was admitted in the hospital on Friday morning for the sickness.

"We're seeing a huge upswing in our flu numbers compared to last year and most of our flu is related to the H1N1 flu and it's affecting our very young population," Dr. Karin Raman with Children's Mercy Hospital said.

To help fight the flu, doctors advise staying away from sick people and washing your hands frequently to prevent the spread of germs. But most importantly, get vaccinated.

"You can either do that via the shot or via the nasal mist and it's not too late to get a flu shot," Raman said.

It's the grim truth so many families are learning the hard way. The University of Kansas Hospital has already reported two flu related deaths.

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