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First influenza death reported in county
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A 28-year-old man in Stanislaus County with chronic health problems has died from the flu county health officials reported Friday.

The 28-year-old man died from the flu virus on Thursday according to the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency. The deceased had multiple pre-existing medical conditions, the health agency reported.

This is the first influenza virus death reported in Stanislaus County for the 2012-13 flu season. The man’s name and hometown were not released.

The Centers for Disease Control started seeing flu cases earlier than usual this season. Flu season typically begins in October and peaks in activity in January and February. Most of the reported cases have tested positive for the H3N2 strain, which is one of the viruses included in the vaccine.

While flu activity is decreasing in the East, it is rising in the West, according to the CDC.

The California Department of Public Health reported an increase in flu activity in multiple regions statewide during the week of Jan. 26. Outpatient cases of flu increased 1.5 percent from the week prior, the CDPH reported.

A total of 14 influenza-associated deaths among individuals less than 65 years of age, including one pediatric death, have been reported to CDPH to date during the 2012–2013 influenza season.  The deaths were reported from the Central Valley (1), the Sacramento metropolitan area (1), the Visalia-Porterville metropolitan area (1), the Metropolitan Fresno or Greater Fresno area (1), the Greater Los Angeles Area (4), the San Diego metropolitan area (4), and the San Francisco Bay Area (2). 

In Stanislaus County the flu season tends to last into the spring. Health officials have been busy spreading the word that vaccinations can still be effectual for area residents.

“The seasonal flu vaccine is important and is a safe way to protect yourself and your loved ones against the seasonal flu,” said Dr. John Walker the public health officer for Stanislaus County. “We are still early in the influenza season and it’s not too late to vaccinate. It is highly likely that our flu season will last into April.”

Vaccinations are available through private physicians and through the Stanislaus County Public Health Department. Vaccinations are available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursdays and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays. No appointment is needed. The health department is located at 830 Scenic Drive in Modesto.

The flu vaccine takes about two to three weeks for it to become effective.