By Brian New

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A new aggressive approach to collecting flu statistics, the Dallas County Health and Human Services said, has led to more accurate flu numbers this year than in the past.

So far this season, Dallas County has reported 26 flu-related deaths. That’s significant more than neighboring counties but Dallas Health Director Zachary Thompson said that’s more a result of his department’s new approach to collecting statistics than a higher rate of the virus in his county.

Influenza-associated deaths of adults are not required to be reported to public health departments.

In years past, Dallas County, like many counties still do, waited on hospitals to voluntary report their cases.

This year Thompson said his staff is actively seeking the information.

Dallas County is also, for the first time, working with the Medical Examiner’s Office to test for flu. That has lead to 11 more reported flu deaths this year that in past would have been missed.

Thompson said worried many people were underestimating the flu and is hoping more accurate flu-death numbers will serve as motivation for some to get a flu shot.

“When I see a number of 26 deaths in Dallas County that brings it home that the flu is present in Dallas County,” said Thompson. “”People are coming in because of hearing reports about people dying.”

Lesly Wagner of Dallas said that’s why she brought her grandchildren in to get a flu-shot at the Dallas County Health and Human Services Department on Tuesday.

She said in years past she wasn’t as worried.

“I think it’s much scarier that it has been in the past,” she said.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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