Noticeable drop in Valley flu cases

FRESNO, Calif.

School kids aren't coughing as much on the playground these days. It's been a particularly bad flu season but Central Unified School District lead nurse Patricia Gomes noticed the cases are now dropping. She said, "The number of sick days has decreased in the last couple of weeks significantly."

Gomes said even though we've passed the peak of the flu season we still need to be cautious. "It is hard to know. We could be going down and then turn around and it could go right back up if the weather changed so the H1N1 flu has a different pattern than the normal flu and so in a sense we're not home free."

The flu has taken its toll on the valley. The Fresno County Health Department says 22 people died of the flu this season. 37 flu patients were admitted into intensive care. Their average age was 52.

Community Health Division Manager Joe Prado called this year's strain severe. He explained, "If you were admitted in ICU this flu season thus far there was a 60% fatality rate."

Across California the number of flu-related deaths tripled from a year ago to 318. The 2009 H1N1 pandemic struck fear around the globe. Nine people in Fresno County died. This year's outbreak hasn't been as widespread but more people in Fresno county - 22 - have died.

Prado said he was "Definitely surprised by those numbers in that we had instances of more people with the illness back in 09-10 but we didn't see as many deaths back then."

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