Flu death toll nearly doubles

Posted on January 23, 2014 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Flu activity continues to increase statewide, including reports of hospitalizations, severe disease and the number of deaths, according to public health officials.

As of January 18, the number of confirmed influenza related deaths in California jumped to 95 from 45 in one week, including three fatalities in Sonoma County.

“The increasing number of influenza related deaths points to the severity of this flu season,” said Dr. Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health. “We are clearly in the midst of what appears to be an earlier peaking, severe flu season.”

There are an additional 51 deaths under investigation.

Influenza vaccine remains available and there is no widespread shortage of anti-virals for treatment of the flu.

“Vaccination is so important because it continues to be the best defense against the flu,” Chapman said.

While hospitals have seen over the last few weeks an increase in the number of patients hospitalized, there is still bed capacity, Chapman said.

In the most recent reporting period, ending January 18, 2014, there were an additional 50 confirmed deaths in 20 counties throughout California. Two were in Sonoma County.

Those at highest risk are the elderly, pregnant women, infants, or those with other health conditions. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.
 Those who show flu symptoms should contact their physician immediately.

Prevent the flu

The California Department of Public Health advises you to:
• Get vaccinated
• Wash your hands frequently
• Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
• If sick, limit contact with others

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