First Flu-Related Death Reported in California for Person Under Age 65: CDPH

Flu season is spreading quickly through San Diego this year with 258 reported cases. That's compared to only 82 flu cases at this time last year.

The first flu-related death of the season for a person under age 65 in California was confirmed Thursday, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

State health officials said the victim suffered from chronic conditions and resided in Yolo County.

County Health and Human Services announced Wednesday that flu season is moving at a higher pace in San Diego than last season. There were 37 flu cases reported last week, bringing the county's total to 258 this year. Last year, there were only 82 flu cases around this time.

“As this unfortunate case illustrates, the flu can be deadly," CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith said, in a statement. "People with chronic health conditions are among those at greatest risk for severe flu illness and complications such as heart attacks and pneumonia."

Health officials have warned of a potentially miserable flu season this year, since the Southern Hemisphere was hit. In the past few months, there's been a flu strain going around Australia that's notorious for causing more severe sickness.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials told the Associated Press there's a chance the U.S. could have a similar season to Australia.

Every year, the flu is estimated to cause millions of illnesses, said CDPH officials. That includes tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths.

The annual flu vaccine helps protect people from the flu. Health officials recommend that everyone six months of age and older take the vaccine.

High-risk groups for flu complications include pregnant women, children under 2 years of age, adults aged 65 and older and nursing home residents, according to the CDPH.

In an effort to stop the flu's spread, health officials also encouraged residents to stay home when sick, cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue or sleeve, wash hands thoroughly and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth.

Flu outbreaks are possible as early as October, but influenza usually peaks between December and February.

The CDPH's influenza web page offers more information about the flu.

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