California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith today announced that CDPH has received the first report of an influenza-associated fatality in a person under the age of 65 for the 2016-2017 flu season. The death occurred in Los Angeles County.
“As this unfortunate case illustrates, the flu can be deadly and causes thousands of fatalities each year in the United States,” Dr. Smith said. “Fortunately, people can get vaccinated to help keep them from getting sick and spreading the flu to others.”
While this is the first influenza-associated death in a patient under the age of 65 reported this season in California, CDPH has received reports of 11 confirmed influenza-associated cases that required treatment in an intensive care unit, and five influenza outbreaks in the state this year. Deaths due to influenza in persons under 65 years of age are reportable in CA to monitor the seasonal severity of influenza.
Each year, flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands or sometimes tens of thousands of deaths in the United States. To reduce this threat, CDPH recommends the annual flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older, including pregnant women.
While seasonal flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, flu activity is usually highest between December and February, and can last through the Spring. As family and friends gather during the holidays, now is an important time to get protection against the flu. It’s not too late to get vaccinated.
Common symptoms of the flu include fever or feeling feverish, a cough and/or sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, chills, fatigue and body aches. Children may also have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
To stop the spread of flu and other respiratory illnesses, Californians should also:
- Stay home when sick
- Cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue and properly dispose of the used tissue
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
Californians are encouraged to contact their health care providers, clinics or pharmacies about obtaining the flu vaccine. Some local health departments may also offer low- or no-cost flu immunizations. For more information about the flu visit the CDPH influenza web page. To find a flu vaccine location near you, visit www.flu.gov and enter your zip code in the Flu Vaccine Finder.