16 deaths in California linked to earliest flu season in a decade

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Health officials say they don't start seeing flu-related deaths until December or early January.

However, with several flu-related deaths being reported throughout the state already, they're urging folks to get vaccinated and get prepared before its too late.

It's a virus that can quickly turn deadly and health officials are urging folks to get vaccinated as the flu season is getting its earliest start in a decade.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms, thirty states are already seeing flu activity, including some cases in California.

Dr. Jessica Mason with Community Regional Medical Center and UCSF Fresno says people are already suffering symptoms and they want help, fast.

"We've seen a lot of people coming into the emergency room with flu-like symptoms..the common one being ..think of a really bad chest cold," said Dr. Jessica Mason at CRMC.

According to the California department of public health, their latest report released Friday says there have been sixteen flu related deaths in the state since September.

One of those being in Tulare.

The numbers are reported to the state by local public health departments but the most current data can lag. For example, the state has documented 1 flu-related death in San Diego County. However, that regional public health department reports, six influenza deaths so far this flu season.

Health officials say the most vulnerable are younger children, the elderly and those with autoimmune issues.

They also say This is the season when the virus is likely to be transmitted.

"You'll be among your family. That's how you get germs, you'll be among people and in closed areas," said Leticia Berber with Fresno County Public Health Department.

So far, Fresno County Health Department officials say no flu-related deaths have been confirmed.

They urge folks to get the flu shot, and if they feel the symptoms...go see their doctor.

"We can help you determine if it is the flu, and do you need treatment...not everyone needs treatments," said Dr. Mason.
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