While the current flu season continues spreading rapidly throughout the country, it remains relatively low in California. Nevertheless, on Friday, Jan. 9, the California Department of Public Health confirmed the first influenza death in the state this season.
The flu victim was a Southern California resident and under age 65, CDPH reported. Outpatient visits for influenza-like-illness has begun to increase in the western region and is now above the normal threshold.
“Flu activity is beginning to increase statewide, including reports of hospitalizations and severe disease,” said CDPH Director Dr. Ronald Chapman. “We are early on in what could be a severe flu season, and I encourage everyone who has not yet gotten a flu vaccination to do so. The influenza vaccine remains the most effective way to protect yourself from the flu.”
Already this season, 26 pediatric deaths have been attributed to the flu. During the 2013-14 flu season, 109 pediatric deaths were reported.
“Patient visits to doctors for influenza-like-illness (ILI) are now almost even with the peak of 2012-13 season, the last time H3N2 viruses predominated,” the CDC reported last week. The total flu-related deaths declined sharply in early December, but have begun climbing in the past couple of weeks. The percentage of deaths due to pneumonia and influenza were 7 percent, just above the 6.9-percent epidemic threshold.
Last month, the Gallup organization, which has been conducting polls on the health of Americans since 2008, reported that this flu season may be one of the worse in recent years.
“Americans’ reports of being sick with the flu in December are among the highest Gallup has recorded since beginning to track the flu daily in 2008. Flu reports typically peak in January or February, which indicates that this may be one of the worst flu seasons in at least seven years,” Gallup reported on Jan. 8.
Through the end of 2014, most individuals admitted to hospitals for influenza-like symptoms were adults older than 65. The majority of these people also suffered from other underlying medical conditions, such as metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disease or obesity. The next most vulnerable group was children younger than 4 years.
Those at highest risk of severe influenza — the elderly, pregnant women, infants or people with other health conditions — who show flu symptoms should contact their physician immediately in order to get the most effective treatment for influenza. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.
CDPH also confirmed seven cases of measles from five different locations in California, one of which is Riverside County. Four of the other individuals also live in Southern California and are between ages 8 months and 21.
All individuals with confirmed or suspected cases of measles reported visiting Disneyland of Disney California Adventure Park between Dec. 15 and 20.
CDPH reports, “Six cases were unvaccinated for measles (two were too young to be vaccinated), and one had received an appropriate vaccination (two doses of MMR vaccine). Several large contact investigations are ongoing …
“Two doses of measles-containing vaccine are more than 99 percent effective in preventing measles. Measles vaccines have been available in the United States since 1963, and two doses have been recommended since 1989,” according to CDPH.
“Measles typically begins with fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes and within a few days a red rash appears, usually first on the face and then spreads downward to the rest of the body. Measles is a highly infectious, airborne disease,” CDPH reports.