State Health Department reports surge in flu outbreaks

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Flu deaths are already ten times higher than the same time last year, the highest rate in a decade. (KFSN)

Flu deaths are already 10 times higher than the same time last year, the highest rate in a decade. Health departments are reminding everyone it is not too late to vaccinate.

"We've seen widespread activity in every county in California so we don't know if we've hit the peak yet, but we are ramping up. "

There have been two reportable flu deaths in Tulare County and one in Fresno County, but Leticia Berber of the Fresno County Health Department says the numbers of deaths and those needing ICU, or intensive care are expected to rise.

"We are seeing an increase in of activity in emergency rooms with people with influenza-like illnesses meaning we may see an increase in our death numbers and ICU numbers," Berber said.

The best way to avoid the flu is with a vaccination. Seventy percent of those who died from influenza were not vaccinated.

"We have individuals that do not get vaccinated that end up in the hospital ICU due to complications, severe complications."

While the latest flu vaccine is thought to be 10 to 30 percent effective in keeping you from getting the flu, it reduces the symptoms, and most important.

Nicole Ozburn said, "It's not preventing you from getting the flu, it's preventing you from dying from the flu."

Nicole is the Director of Employee Health at Community Regional Medical Center. She urges workers in any setting to stay home if they are sick.

"I've heard there are employers that want you to provide a doctor's note or some kind of proof but the best thing for you to do if you are sick is to stay home and not spread this to others," Ozburn said.

The states reportable deaths are only a fraction of those who actually die from the flu. Reportable means only those under the age of 65. The flu toll for older folks is much, much higher.

"Deaths to individuals that are over 65 are far, far more common and we don't collect data on those because unfortunately, there are too many of them."

The state says the reason deaths of those under 65 are the only ones reportable as flu deaths is because statistically many older patients have other health issues.
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healthflu seasonflu preventionCalifornia
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