The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced today that CDPH has received the first report of an influenza-associated fatality in a person under the age of 65 for the 2017-2018 flu season. The person had chronic conditions and the death occurred in Yolo County.

This is a 3-dimensional illustration showing the different features of an influenza virus, including the surface proteins hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA)/CDC
This is a 3-dimensional illustration showing the different features of an influenza virus, including the surface proteins hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA)/CDC

“As this unfortunate case illustrates, the flu can be deadly. People with chronic health conditions are among those at greatest risk for severe flu illness and complications such as heart attacks and pneumonia,” CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith said. “Vaccination is the best protection against flu, and is a critical part of caring for people with medical conditions including diabetes, heart disease, and asthma.”

Each year in California, influenza is estimated to cause millions of illnesses, tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths.

To reduce this risk, CDPH recommends the annual flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older. In addition to the groups mentioned above, other people at high risk of developing flu-related complications include pregnant women, children under 2 years of age, adults aged 65 and older and nursing home residents.

Common symptoms of the flu include fever or feeling feverish, a cough and/or sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, chills, fatigue and body aches. Children may also have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

To stop the spread of flu and other respiratory illnesses, you should also:

  • Stay home when sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or a sleeve and properly dispose of used tissue
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

While seasonal flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, flu activity is usually highest between December and February.

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