The Merced County Department of Public Health released this statement to Action News:
The Merced County Department of Public Health is reporting the confirmation of three cases of severe influenza in Merced County, as of this week, involving adult patients, one who has been hospitalized in intensive care and two who have died.
These cases are the first reported for the county and are part of an increase of cases of influenza requiring hospitalization being reported statewide and nationally in recent weeks.
"These severe flu cases are sad reminders of the potential impact caused by seasonal influenza, states Kathleen Grassi, R.D., M.P.H., Director, Department of Public Health. However, it is not too late to get a flu shot since cases of seasonal influenza usually peak in late January into February."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that everyone, six months of age and older, should be vaccinated against influenza, but it is especially important for people with chronic diseases, such as asthma, other lung and heart diseases, and diabetes. Pregnant women, seniors, and people who live with or care for those at high risk should also be sure to be vaccinated.
Merced County Health Officer, Tim Livermore, M.D., notes that, "getting an annual flu shot is the best way to prevent flu from spreading. Cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer, and stay home and away from others when sick. Persons with flu symptoms should call their doctor for advice about treatment to make flu less serious, which is most effective when started early."