Health Watch

California sees dramatic rise in flu deaths

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday the State Department of Public Health released new numbers, stating 95 deaths in California are being called flu-related. Another 50 deaths are being investigated.

In the Central Valley no additional flu-related deaths were reported Friday. In Fresno County 13 people died after getting sick with the flu. There have been three deaths in Merced and Kings Counties. And Tulare and Madera Counties are reporting one death each.

Most of the deaths in California are attributed to the H1N1 flu strain. But at least one death in Fresno County was related to the H3 strain, a more seasonal version of the flu. The difference is each strain impacts different age groups.

"Even if you feel you're healthy and the flu is not gonna knock me down. Ok, that's great, but you still want to get vaccinated because you want to protect those that are more vulnerable than you," David Luchini with the Fresno County Public Health.

Luchini said this year H1N1 is the predominant flu strain getting people sick. H1N1 is strong it is associated with most of the deaths around the state. And its biggest impact is on people younger than 65. All 13 flu deaths in Fresno County are connected to other chronic medical issues. But health officials say even the healthiest people should get vaccinated.

"Making sure we're taking care of ourselves every day, eating healthier, more fruits and vegetables. Exercising just 30 minutes a day really helps you decrease the chances of having worse chronic illnesses," Luchini said.

Three children under the age of 10 have died after catching the flu. One in Riverside County one in San Mateo County and one in Los Angeles County. All had underlying health complications. State health officials say this week, hospital ICU cases are down, but the flu has not officially slowed down.

"I think it's safe to say influenza will be sticking around at varying degrees. And it's safe to say if you have not been vaccinated it's a good time to do it," Luchini said.

Fresno County Public Health has already given out almost four thousand vaccinations at its daily flu clinics, which is good news they say, in slowing the spread of flu this season.

Of the official 95 flu deaths reported statewide 20 percent of those people received a flu shot. But health officials say they had underlying health conditions.

For more information on how to get flu a shot click here.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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flu, h1n1, health watch, rick montanez
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