FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A deadly strain of the flu is quickly sweeping through North Texas. Officials report hundreds of documented cases and there have been more than a dozen deaths.

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Cities across our area are taking strong measures to try to stop the spread of the virus. In fact, some hospitals are asking people to leave their children at home when they visit patients.

Officials at John Peter Smith Hospital say they’ve taken the move in an effort to not only protect patients, but also kids who could pick up the virus if they were to come to the hospital.

The JPS Health Network is one of the hospitals that made the request Tuesday. Families are still learning about the flu alert, but those who spoke with CBS 11 News said if it’s about the patients, they understand.

Since the week of Christmas, nearly 350 people have turned to the emergency department or urgent care JPS in Fort Worth, with flu symptoms. Currently there are 26 people hospitalized, seven of those in the Intensive Care Unit.

The increasing number of flu cases led to the hospital’s request that parents consider keeping kids away, with flu expected to spread as schools starts again.

Alex Reyna’s father is a patient at JPS. He says the alert complicates things, but for the better. “It is kinda hard to find somebody [to care for the children] and stuff and it can stop us from coming, but I’m pretty sure we’ll find a way for them not to come if that’s the case about the flu going on.”

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Bringing kids to the hospital has been common for Reyna the last two weeks. His niece and nephew have been coming to see their grandfather. They’ll have to skip it now he said — if only to keep anyone else from getting sick. “We have someone in the hospital and its kinda bad if somebody else gets in, ‘cause of the flu or something else going around.”

Children and adults have started filling clinics, to get vaccinations.

North Texas hospitals alone have reported 1,800 confirmed cases this flu season. At Medical City Dallas Hospital, almost half of the new cases have been children.

The hospital’s director of emergency services, Dr. Matt Bush, said, “The number of positive flu tests we’ve had in the last couple of weeks are up eight times what they were in early December, so without a doubt we’re seeing a lot of flu.”

In Fort Worth, the flu cases actually tailed off a bit in the last week. That’s a trend the flu tracker on Google, also shows. But with school back in session everywhere as of Tuesday Officials at JPS don’t expect that trend to continue.

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