US Flu death toll rises in California

20:54  12 january  2018
20:54  12 january  2018 Source:   latimes.com

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But the state figures only provide a snapshot of the true toll the flu has taken among the state’s older population-those 65 and older whose deaths go unreported in some counties. RELATED STORY: Flu -related deaths in California continue to rise , making it among ‘worst seasons’ in 10 years.

So many people have fallen sick with influenza in California that pharmacies have run out of flu medicines, emergency rooms are packed, and the death toll is rising higher than in previous years.

person standing in a room: ORANGE, CALIF. -- FRIDAY, JANUARY 5, 2018: Marenna Bielman, RN, right, takes Angelica Lara's blood pressure as she is treated for flu-like symptoms at St. Joseph's Hospital in Orange, Calif., on Jan. 5, 2018. Californians struggle to find medicines as flu season picks up. Health officials say this year's flu strain has been particularly hard on the elderly. Plus, pharmacies say they're running low on oseltamivir, often known by the brand name Tamiflu, which doctors say could make this flu season particularly dangerous.(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times) © Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times ORANGE, CALIF. -- FRIDAY, JANUARY 5, 2018: Marenna Bielman, RN, right, takes Angelica Lara's blood pressure as she is treated for flu-like symptoms at St. Joseph's Hospital in Orange, Calif., on Jan. 5, 2018. Californians struggle to find medicines as flu season picks up. Health officials say this year's flu strain has been particularly hard on the elderly. Plus, pharmacies say they're running low on oseltamivir, often known by the brand name Tamiflu, which doctors say could make this flu season particularly dangerous.(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The number of Californians under 65 who’ve died of the flu has jumped to 42, compared with nine at the same time last year, state officials said Friday.

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Flu outbreak brings overcrowded hospitals and medicine shortages as death toll in California rises to 27. California has reported 27 deaths so far this flu season. Last year there were three deaths at this time.

So many people have fallen sick with influenza in California that pharmacies have run out of flu medicines, emergency rooms are packed, and the death toll is rising higher than in previous years.

The flu season, which runs from October through May, typically peaks in February. Public health officials say they don’t yet know whether the flu season is peaking earlier than normal, or if this year will be a particularly tough one for the flu.

“We are still early in the season but … the number of deaths so far is significantly higher than at the same time in the previous several influenza seasons,” said Dr. James Watt, chief of the division of communicable disease control with the California Department of Public Health, in a press call with reporters this week.

Thousands of people in California started showing up at doctors’ offices and hospitals in December with the flu. Since then, emergency rooms have been crowded with long wait times, and patients have struggled to get doctor appointments as well as flu medications.

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So many people have fallen sick with influenza in California that pharmacies have run out of flu medicines, emergency rooms are packed, and the death toll is rising higher than in previous years.

County health agencies across California have received less than 45% of the vaccines ordered. The flu has claimed the life of one more Bay Area resident in Contra Costa County. Contra Costa County health officials confirmed one new flu death , a woman in her 40s.

Most people in California and nationwide are catching a strain of influenza A known as H3N2, which tends to be deadlier than other strains. H3N2 was to blame for Australia’s most recent, brutal flu season, which led to record numbers of sick people as well as the nickname “Aussie flu.”

In California, state officials collect flu death data only among people under 65. So many older people die of the flu each year that monitoring deaths under 65 reveals more about the severity of the flu season, they say.

Among people of all ages, 36 people have died in Los Angeles County this flu season and 91 in San Diego County, officials say.

“Influenza is widespread,” said L.A. County public health department director Dr. Barbara Ferrer in a press conference this week. “There’s almost no area in the county that’s seen no influenza activity at this point.”

Officials say visits to L.A. County emergency rooms for influenza symptoms are more than twice as high as they were at the same time last year.

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His death , reported on Friday, brings the Bay Area flu -related death toll to 50. According to Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health

Flu death toll rises in California - latimes.com. Jan 12, 2018 · The number of Californians under 65 who’ve died of the flu has jumped to 42, compared with nine at the same time last year, state officials said.

This month, Kaiser Permanente members received texts and calls warning them of long wait times in the urgent care and ERs. Kaiser’s phone line that fields patient calls has also seen a big increase in activity recently, said Dr. Gunter Rieg, regional infection control officer for Kaiser Permanente in Southern California.

“It’s a huge surge of influenza this year,” he said.

Officials say that it’s not too late to get the flu shot. The vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age or older, and is especially important for pregnant women, children under 5, adults over 65 and others who are at high-risk for complications from the flu.

Experts say the flu shot may be only 30% effective this year, but can still reduce the severity of symptoms for people who get the flu. It takes about two weeks for the flu shot to take effect.

“At this time, it’s the best tool we have,” Ferrer said.

Flu activity varies across the state. Silicon Valley’s Camino Hospital has been treating double the number of flu patients it typically sees this time of year.

“It is higher this week than last week, which was higher than the week before, so we haven’t seen a peak yet,” said Dr. Daniel Shin, an infectious disease physician at the hospital.

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The death toll is also rising rapidly as more and more people are succumbing to the virus. According to the LA Times, health officials said Friday that 27 people younger than 65 have died of the flu in California since October, compared with three at the same time last year.

The flu season, which runs from October through May, typically peaks in February. Public health officials say they don’t yet know whether the… Next Next post: 199-mph wind gust that blasted Alpine Meadows ski area last year set a California record.

Louise White, chief nursing officer for Sharp Grossmont Hospital in San Diego County, said that the number of patients coming in for the flu appears to have leveled off. San Diego was the first part of the state severely hit by the flu and many hospitals there reported seeing fewer patients this week.

“The volumes of patients coming in increased dramatically during Christmas week,” White said. “It probably peaked about last weekend.”

soumya.karlamangla@latimes.com

Twitter: @skarlamangla

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