California is continuing to be battered by a relentless assault from the deadly influenza virus, and the state body count has officially been raised to 202. This tally was conducted on victims under 65 who have succumbed to the disease, although this has not been the only cause for concern. There have also been reports confirming an elevated rate of pertussis cases in 2013, and one resulting fatality marks the first death it has caused since 2010. The bacterial disease, also known as whopping cough, is highly contagious, and was the culprit behind epidemics in states across the U.S. in 2012.
The recent deaths caused by influenza are 11 times higher than rates experienced by California just the previous year, where only 18 people were claimed by the virus. Unfortunately, the worst may not yet be over, according to Dr. James Watt, of the State Department of Public Health. The epidemiologist forecasts an increase in victims, due to 41 additional positive cases in need of confirmation. Over 66 percent of the fatalities counted were individuals between the ages of 40 and 64, and the resiliency of the influenza virus, also known as H1N1, has been shown to be life-threatening to healthy adults of all ages.
Symptoms of influenza are important things to look out for in the aiding of prompt treatment for the disease. The virus commonly presents with fever, runny nose, coughing, muscle pains, and fatigue. Although it is common to misdiagnose an occurrence of the flu as something less severe, preemptive measures should always be taken in order to prevent the worsening of a potential victim. Influenza can be transmitted through the air by breathing in infected aerosols, or by other means of bacterial contamination. There are usually seasonal swells in which the frequency of contraction escalates, and can result in around 500,000 deaths annually.
Sacramento, California has seen significant raises of more than twice the body count of the state’s average from the influenza virus. So far, public health officials within the county have reported 24 deaths, with 102 more victims forced into hospitalization. Due to the unpredictable nature of the disease, it is unclear whether or not worsening conditions have yet to be seen during this crisis, or whether the negative statistics have peaked sometime earlier within the year.
Vaccination against the influenza virus is strongly recommended by the World Health Organization, as well as by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. High-risk age groups such as children and the elderly are especially advised to take necessary precautions against contracting the disease or furthering outbreaks. Furthermore, professions such as health care workers, and individuals who possess frequently compromised immune systems, such as those who suffer from chronic illnesses are also at a higher risk of contraction. Dr. Watt and his team have concluded that the virus is running its course throughout the state, although the accuracy of reported cases may vary from county to county.
Additionally, it was confirmed on Friday that a two-month-old infant had succumbed to the pertussis virus after contracting it at only four weeks. The disease presents most commonly among young children and infants, and babies who are younger than six months cannot safely have the vaccination administered. Pertussis cases in California have doubled in 2013, with numbers totaling 2372, compared with the 1022 cases that were reported in 2012. As California continues to fight against raises in the body count among cases of both pertussis and the influenza virus, it is crucial that victims take every precaution to do the same.
By Darrell Purcell