Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), reported today that a child in Fresno County and another in Riverside County have died from influenza-related complications. They are the first California children to die from the disease during the current influenza season.
“This is a tragic reminder of the flu’s potential to cause serious illness and even death,” Horton said. “I urge all Californians to get a flu shot and take other preventive measures to reduce their exposure to influenza.”
CDPH recommends influenza vaccine for:
- Individuals with underlying chronic medical conditions
- Adults aged 50 and older
- Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities
- All women who will be pregnant during influenza season
- Children six months to 18 years of age
- Health care workers providing direct patient care
- Individuals who live with or care for a person older than 49 years, younger than five years or with underlying chronic medical conditions
- Anyone who wishes to reduce their chance of becoming ill with influenza or spreading influenza to others
“It is not too late for Californians to receive a flu shot,” Horton said. Also, healthy individuals ages two to 49 can receive the nasal-spray flu vaccine, known as Flumist®.
To stop the spread of influenza and other respiratory illnesses, all Californians should:
- Stay home when sick to avoid spreading illness to co-workers and friends.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and properly dispose of used tissues.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to get rid of most germs, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Stay healthy by eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, not smoking, and getting adequate rest and exercise.
Current influenza activity in California is “regional,” which is defined by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “Outbreaks of influenza or increases in influenza-like illness and recent laboratory confirmed influenza in at least two but less than half the regions of the state". Every year, more than 225,000 people are hospitalized and more than 35,000 die in the United States due to influenza and its complications.