Image of H1N1 strain of flu from the Centers of Disease Control. (Courtesy: AP)
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- The Kent County Health Department is reporting the first flu-related deaths of this season.
Health department spokeswoman Lisa LaPlante says testing has confirmed three people who recently died were suffering from the H1N1 strain of flu. Two of the patients had other medical complications; the health department is still trying to attain the medical history of the third person. All three people were over the age of 50.
From the start of flu season to now, the Kent County Health Department has been notified of more than 400 flu cases. That's up from 324 cases last week. LaPlante says the new spate of flu cases included 10 hospital visits, bringing the total number of reported hospitalizations to 26 in the county.
LaPlante says people between 20 and 50 years of age are among the hardest hit this flu season, with H1N1 being the most prevalent strain. The flu season typically peaks between January and February.
LaPlante says Kent County is on track to have more flu cases then last year, when nearly 1,000 people reported having the flu. However, LaPlante says plenty of flu vaccines are still available through the Health Department.
For more information, visit the Health Department's website here. The Center for Disease Control recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age. It takes 10-14 days for immunity to develop after receiving the vaccine.