California flu deaths have been on a stubborn rise this season. The latest reports show a jump in deaths from 203 to 243 deaths so far. The state Department of Public Health is investigating an additional 41 flu related deaths. According to a Feb. 14 Sacramento Bee article, only 26 people died from flu by this time last year. In comparison, the entire 2012-2013 season had 106 fatal cases.
The number 26 also applies to this year’s flu deaths in Sacramento County. This is one of the highest counts in comparison to other counties in the State of California.
Los Angeles County had 52 flu related deaths, according to State Public health reports. Local public health reports had the count at 33 deaths.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, the death toll was at 51 according to a Feb. 14 San Jose Mercury News article.
Officials say the death rate is expected to keep rising, even though the season has peaked. which makes this the deadliest flu season since the H1N1 pandemic of 2009. H1N1 is still the predominant strain for this season, and the sad reality is that people only need to get a vaccine to minimize their chances of infection.
Many people are avoiding vaccines for various reasons, but that is the most often recommended course of action to take. The biggest danger is that the expected peak of the season has passed and the disease is showing a downward trend. People start to think they have dodged the bullet and will avoid taking the vaccine this year. The reality is that the season is expected to continue for a while and the virus is active.
According to a Feb. 14 LA Times report, relatively younger and healthier people have taken it hard this flu season. Still, the state report says that the "great majority" of the deaths involved people with underlying medical conditions and who stay at high risk of complications during a bout of H1N1.
Elderly people, pregnant women, infants, and people with other health conditions should be very cautious as they are the most high risk groups when it comes to H1N1 flu. People between the ages of 40 and 64 years are the most likely to contract the flu this year.
If the flu does take hold, anti viral medications can be used. The problem is that doctors are hesitant to use the “last antibiotics we have.”