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Flu cases on the rise in California
flu shot pic

An influx of people sickened with influenza has state health officials urging residents to get vaccinated.

The California Department of Public Health reported the state is seeing an increase in influenza activity recently and are encouraging Californians to get a vaccination is they haven’t already done so.

“It is important to get vaccinated now if you have not done so already,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “I encourage everyone six months of age and older to be vaccinated to help protect themselves and others from the dangers of flu.”

Flu activity is occurring throughout every region of the state and above expected levels for this time of year, according to the CDPH.

“Flu activity usually reaches its peak January and February, but typically continues to spread through the spring,” said Dr. Smith. “With most of the flu season still to come, it’s not too late to get vaccinated.”

Each year, the flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands or sometimes tens of thousands of deaths in the United States. The prominent strain this year is the H1N1, which in the past has meant a more severe season and cases that are particularly harsh for children and young adults. A young child in Stanislaus County sickened with this strain died in December. The H1N1 virus was declared a pandemic in 2009 when it rapidly spread around the globe, sickening millions of people.

The CDPH reported there has been 75 deaths from the flu since the start of the season on Sept. 30, 2018, up through Jan. 12. The rate of hospitalizations and outpatients are both above expected levels, according to the CDPH.

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, CDPH recommends these steps:

— Stay home when sick.

— Cover a cough or sneeze with an elbow or tissue and throw the tissue in the trash.

— Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

— Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Californians should contact their health care provider, pharmacy or a clinic about obtaining the flu vaccine.