A Stanislaus County man died recently of influenza, marking the first flu-related death of a person under the age of 65 in the county this season.
“This is a very sad reminder that flu can be a serious and sometimes deadly disease,” said Dr. Thea Papasozomenos, Stanislaus County Assistant Public Health Officer. “We extend our sincerest condolences to the man’s family. Flu vaccination is the most effective protection against flu and it's still not too late to get a flu shot.”
The California Department of Public Health reported flu activity has been high and reaching levels not typically seen until later in the season. From Sept. 29, 2019 to Dec. 21, 2019, there have been 46 influenza-coded deaths identified on death certificates.
The CDPH said that getting vaccinated is the best defense against the flu. It takes a couple of weeks after vaccination for the body to build immunity, so don't delay getting a shot.
"The flu shot protects you and those around you by making it less likely you'll get sick if you're exposed to the virus, and if you do get ill, you'll tend to have fewer days of symptoms and they'll be less severe," said State Public Health Officer and CDPH Director Dr. Sonia Angell.
CDPH recommends the annual flu vaccination for everyone six months of age and older. While anyone can get the flu, pregnant women, adults 65 years of age and older, and people with chronic conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and asthma are particularly at risk for flu-related complications.
Children five years old and younger, especially those under two, and all children with long-term health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and disorders of the brain or nervous system are at risk of serious complications if they get the flu. It is important that parents speak with their doctor as soon as possible if their child develops flu symptoms, particularly children with a higher risk for flu complications. Parents of any child with flu symptoms should make sure their child is well-hydrated and gets plenty of rest.
“The flu isn’t merely a winter cold: it is a serious, and very contagious virus that can be deadly. The flu is preventable, but a vaccination is needed every year to maintain the greatest protection,” said Dr. Angell.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the predominate flu virus is the B strain, followed by the A(H1N1). Nationally, influenza B/Victoria viruses are the most commonly reported influenza viruses among children age 0-4 years (48 percent of reported viruses) and 5-24 years (59 percent of reported viruses), while A(H1N1) viruses are the most commonly reported influenza viruses among persons 25-64 years (42 percent of reported viruses) and 65 years of age and older (43 percent of reported viruses).
The B strain of flu is only found in humans and are not the cause of pandemics. Usually, type B flu is less severe than type A, but type B flu can still be extremely harmful. Type A flu can be found in animals, particularly in birds and is constantly changing, which makes it responsible for large flu epidemics.
Flu illnesses can range from mild to severe. Flu-related issues can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death. The symptoms of flu can come on suddenly, and may include: Fever, chills; headache; fatigue and/or body aches; dry cough; sore throat; runny or stuffy nose; and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting
People experiencing flu-like symptoms should call their health care provider if their symptoms are serious or if there is trouble breathing, if they are pregnant, or have underlying medical conditions. Doctors may prescribe antiviral drugs for people sickened by the flu. Antiviral drugs can make the illness milder and shorten the time a person is sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia.