December 14, 2018

Ventura County flu deaths rise again; public health officials urge vaccination

13 January 2018, 04:36 | Devin Moran

Eastern Health

Eastern Health

Ten people have died of flu-related deaths in San Luis Obispo County since December 10, according to Ann McDowell, an epidemiologist with the SLO County Public Health Department.

Numerous confirmed flu cases involve a strain known as H3N2, which health officials warn doesn't respond well to flu vaccinations, though they still encourage people to get flu shots. Compared to the 2016-2017 flu season, there were 1,109 total cases and 275 weekly cases reported for the same time period past year.

The flu strain now causing the most infections is H3N2, an influenza A virus that has been linked with increased hospitalizations and death, especially in young children and adults over age 65.

If you haven't gotten your flu shot yet, officials say it is not too late. "If disease does occur after vaccination, the vaccine can reduce the severity of flu symptoms and prevent both hospitalization and death".

Washoe County health officials have confirmed two more flu-related deaths.

Up to half of the children who die from flu have no known medical condition that would have put them at higher risk. "[For example], B viruses will be showing later in the season, [which is] another reason why to go ahead and get vaccinated now if you have not gotten vaccinated". The FluMist nasal vaccine offered in the past has not been very effective against H1N1 strains in recent years, so the CDC says it "should not be used".

Most importantly, he says, people still need to get their flu shot. In H3N2-dominant seasons the flu vaccine is typically not as effective. Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu can help slow the spread of influenza.

Fluā€like symptoms include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, muscle aches, chills and fatigue. "Ask for a mask when visiting the hospitals and staff will be glad to provide one for you".

"The problem with flu is you become infectious, that means you become contagious, you can give it to somebody else 24 hours before you know that you even have it".

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes the nation is at peak flu season, as the disease is now considered to be an epidemic, based on its medical impact, the federal agency said Friday. Use a tissue or cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow or arm.

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