Influenza Claims Hundreds in California


The current flu season has taken a heavy toll on those in California.  The number of patients under the age of 65 that have succumbed has been confirmed at 302.  Comparatively, at this time last year only 34 flu deaths had been reported.  The hundreds of lives that influenza has claimed this season in California is almost ten times the number of victims from last year.

The particular flu strain, H1N1, is not just causing deaths in California.  The strain is seen nationwide.  The influenza strain involved in these deaths is more widespread and severe in people between 25 and 64 years old.  Physicians believe that many older people have a greater immunity to this strain because there were similar outbreaks decades ago.

This continues to be a severe flu season and the death toll continues to rise.  The H1N1 strain first surfaced in the United States in 2009 and California had hundreds more victims claimed by that influenza outbreak.  The year 2009 has been recorded as the first global pandemic in over four decades, causing 539 deaths in California alone.  The CDC had no vaccine for this particular flu.

It has not yet been determined whether these cases are indicative of other state counts around the United States or if California simply has a higher than average mortality rate.  The data is collected according to state-by-state regulations.  States are not required to report influenza deaths to the Center for Disease Control.  While the CDC does not have hard figures to determine whether the percentages in California are similar to other states, the agency does receive information on the general causes for visits to the doctor and whether a patient is hospitalized with the flu.  Those numbers appear to indicate that the 2013-2014 flu season will continue to be hard hitting.

A release issued by the California Department of Public Health indicates that the flu season is continuing.  They are maintaining a stance that it is still not too late to get a vaccination.  The influenza vaccine continues to be available.  Typically the flu season lasts until the end of April.

Physicians state that people with the highest risk factors, such as pregnant women, people with health conditions, the elderly and infants should seek immediate medical attention when they exhibit signs of the flu.  The earlier medical attention is sought, the more effective the treatment may be.  Influenza symptoms include body aches, fatigue, headache, cough, fever, and sore throat.

The highest number of deaths has been in Los Angeles where they have a current total of 44 confirmed fatalities.  San Diego has reported 25 fatalities and has the second highest flu related death count in the state.  To compare, at this time last year there had been a total of only 34 influenza fatalities.  By the end of the 2012-2013 season, the state had a total of 106 deaths, approximately one third of the state’s current count.  Influenza has already claimed hundreds in the state of California this year and the flu season is expected to continue for about two more months.  The end result may rival the totals from the 2009 year of the pandemic.

By Dee Mueller

Sierra Sun Times

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