FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Wednesday morning the Fresno County Health Department reported the first flu-related death of the season.
"We know that the patient, or the person who died of influenza, might have had some complications, some underlining medical conditions so that only increased the chance of death," said Norma Sanchez, Communicable Disease Specialist Health Department.
Authorities identified the patient as an adult woman who had underlying health issues but did not disclose what they were.
Last year there were five flu-related deaths in Fresno County, and eight patients who received ICU treatments.
"This is bad, but it's actually getting a little bit better than it has been the two previous weeks," said Dee Lacy, Infectious Disease Doctor Kaiser.
For doctors at two of the biggest hospitals in the Valley now is the time they treat the biggest number of patients with flu-like symptoms.
At Kaiser alone about 36 percent of the patients they have seen have tested positive for influenza A so far this season, which hit harder and earlier than ever before.
"Other than 2009/2010 season when they we had the H1N1 pandemic, that was the last time we had a percentage higher than 39 percent and that hit really at end of October early November which was very, very, early," said Dr. Lacy.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness with symptoms including fever, headache, fatigue, and sometimes a cough and sore throat. All experts agree if you are feeling those symptoms coming up-- nurse yourself to recovery at home.
"Certainly if you think you might be contagious try to not go out," said Dr. Lacy.
Health officials are encouraging everyone over the age of six months to get a flu shot.
At the Fresno County Department of Health each shot is $6, but no one will be refused services if they can't pay.