IMPERIAL COUNTY, Calif. - The Imperial County Public Health Department announced Tuesday that two elderly individuals died earlier this month of complications due to influenza. These are the first flu-related deaths reported this flu season.
Both individuals, who had underlying health conditions, tested positive for seasonal influenza. One had received the flu shot and it is unknown if the second individual had received one. Both died following brief hospitalizations. Last flu season, one death was reported in Imperial County.
Dr. Stephen Munday, County Health Officer stated, “These deaths are a reminder that Influenza is a serious illness especially for high-risk individuals. Vaccination is the best protection against flu illness. You can prevent missing work or school, visits to the doctor or hospitalizations, and protect others from coming down with the flu.” Flu activity is expected to increase significantly in the coming weeks to months and for that reason, vaccination against influenza is strongly recommended. All persons six months of age and older, including health-care personnel, should receive a flu shot now if they have not yet received one this flu season.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the proportion of people seeing their health care provider for influenza-like illness has been at or above the national baseline for two weeks this season. Seven states have reported widespread flu activity.
In Imperial County, there have been an increase in the number of individuals seeking medical care due to influenza. So far this season, 234 cases of influenza-like illness have been identified at out-patient clinics since October 1st; of those 28 (12%) were positive for seasonal influenza. At the same time last year, there were 71 cases of influenza-like illness reported and no confirmed flu cases. A total of 55 cases of severe acute respiratory infections were reported by both hospitals; of those, 7 (13%) were positive for seasonal influenza A. At the same time last season, 41 cases were reported and none were positive for influenza.
The CDC recommends that everyone six months and older receive a flu vaccine every year. The current flu vaccines offer protection against pandemic H1N1, as well as influenza A H3N2 and influenza B strains. Flu shots are available at the Public Health Department on a walk-in basis during regular hours for $5.00. The Imperial County Public Health Department has hosted a number of flu clinics for county staff, farmworkers and seniors throughout the County. In addition, flu vaccine is available with local physicians, community clinics and local pharmacies. Individuals who wish to receive the flu shot from their doctor will need to contact their healthcare provider directly about the availability of flu vaccine.
Influenza is an acute respiratory illness spread from infected persons to others. Signs and symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle aches. Some people, such as older adults, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at higher risk for suffering serious complications from the flu. There are steps you can take in your daily life to help protect you from getting the flu.
To stop the spread of flu and other respiratory illnesses, you should also:
·Stay home while sick and limit contact with others
·Cover your cough or sneeze with your sleeve or disposable tissue
·Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
·Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
For more information regarding the flu vaccine, please contact the Imperial County Public Health Department’s Immunization Program at (442) 265-1394 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org To find a flu shot, visitHealth Map Vaccine Finder