There have been over 150 flu related deaths in California this flu season
Earlier this month, state health officials announced that deaths continue to rise in California during this flu season, even as new influenza cases have decreased in the state. According to the latest data released by the California Department of Public Health, the number of flu-related deaths has gone up to 163 statewide, but that doesn’t include those who are 65 years old or older. While fewer cases were being reported in California, the overall spread of flu remained higher than in previous years. Dr. Sharon Balter, director, Acute Communicable Disease Control, at the county’s Department of Public Health, stated,
Influenza deaths continue to accrue, we have a total of 164 reported this year to date compared to 80 in the entire influenza season last year. The median age of patients who died of influenza this year is 81. Thus, it is much more serious in the elderly. It is therefore very important for people who are elderly and have signs and symptoms of influenza to call their doctor as soon as possible even if they have gotten the flu vaccine in order to prevent severe outcomes.
Dr. Balter noted that it is still not too late to get the flu vaccine. This year’s flu vaccine proved more effective against three influenza strains, but the fourth, H3N2, has proved challenging. Influenza symptoms include fever or feeling feverish, a cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, chills and fatigue. Influenza viruses are always mutating, but some scientists believe that the H3N2 virus mutates faster so vaccine makers have a harder time catching up to it. Try to avoid being near people that have the flu and it is important to stay home for at least 24 hours if you experience flu like symptoms to avoid potentially spreading the virus to others.