The 2014-15 flu season is growing with portions of the country considered at epidemic levels. However, California and Riverside County remain at or below normally expected levels at this part of the flu season.

Based on its weekly survey before New Year’s, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the “proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was at the epidemic threshold.” Also, influenza has been related to the deaths of 15 children already this flu season. Four of the deaths were between Dec. 6 and 13.

Hospitalization rates are beginning to climb, which is normal for this portion of the flu season. The rate for people over age 65 is 38.3 cases per 100,000 population. For children under age 4, the rate was 13.4 cases per 100,000. At the same point in last year’s flu season, the older-than-65 ratio was 10 and the under age 4 ratio was 10.2.

For the week ending Dec. 20, 22 states were experiencing high levels of influenza-like illnesses. During the previous week, 13 states had high levels and at this point in the 2013-14 season, only eight states were considered to have had high levels.

During the same period, 36 states reported widespread influenza activity. Only California reported sporadic activity; throughout the rest of the nation the flu activity was greater and increasing. However, California’s Department of Public Health reported, “Influenza activity in California is low but increasing.”

For the week ending Dec. 13, the percentage of patient visits for influenza-like illnesses in California increased to 2.3 percent from 1.9 percent in the previous week, according to CDPH. The percentage of influenza detected with laboratory tests is significantly higher than in 2013.



Locations for donation-optional flu vaccines

Banning Family Health Center
3055 W. Ramsey, Banning
Walk-ins: 8 a.m.-11 a.m. & 1-4 p.m. Monday to Friday
Appointments: 1-800-720-9553
Clinic: 951-849-6794

Hemet Family Health Center
880 N. State St., Hemet
Walk-ins: 8-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m., Monday to Friday
Appointments: 1-800-720-9553
Clinic: 951-766-2450