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First influenza death in Solano County in 2017-18 season
January 9, 2018
SOLANO COUNTY – Public health officials received confirmation of the first influenza-associated death in a person under 65 years old reported in Solano County for the 2017-2018 influenza season.
"The individual had a medical condition that put them at risk for severe illness," said Dr. Bela Matyas, MD, MPH, Solano County Health Officer and Health and Social Services Deputy Director. “We offer our deepest sympathies to the individual's loved ones.”
According to the California Department of Public Health, influenza is currently widespread throughout the state, with Influenza A(H3N2) viruses predominating this season. The start of this season is at levels usually seen at the peak of the influenza season, with significantly higher office visits and hospitalizations for flu-like symptoms. These early indicators suggest that it may be more severe than usual.
As of December 30, 2017, there have been 27 reports of influenza-associated deaths in patients under 65 years old in California. Influenza-associated deaths in persons under 65 years old are reportable in California.
Influenza activity normally peaks in December through February and may continue until May. In most people, influenza causes a relatively mild illness, but it can be a severe infection that results in hospitalization and even death.
“This unfortunate incident serves as a reminder that the flu can be deadly, especially for people at high risk for severe disease. We all need to take appropriate precautions against getting the flu,” said Dr. Matyas. “Vaccination is still the best protection to protect ourselves, our families, and our community from the flu. While it is not 100 percent effective against the flu, the vaccine still reduces the severity of the illness. Being vaccinated from the flu significantly lessens the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations and deaths.”
Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone six months of age or older. People at high risk of complications from influenza include children younger than five years old, adults over 65 years old, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, or weakened immune systems.
Influenza vaccines are still available in Solano County and it is not too late to get vaccinated. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection fully. Vaccine effectiveness does vary for the different strains each year. Data will be available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in February about vaccine effectiveness.
Fight the flu by taking the following precautions:
- Take time to get a flu vaccine. An annual vaccination is the best way to reduce your risk of getting sick with seasonal flu and spreading it to others. When more people get vaccinated from the flu, less flu can spread through the community, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people and people with certain chronic health conditions.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub and rub your hands together well.
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible. CDC recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.
- Drink plenty of fluids and rest as much as possible.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough and always throw the used tissue in the trash. Remember to wash your hands after you cough or sneeze. You can also cover your coughs and sneezes with your sleeves if you do not have a tissue available.
Individuals in the high-risk group that experience symptoms of flu, should contact their health care provider early in the illness. Antiviral drugs can be prescribed by a physician, and work best if started within two days of getting sick.
Anyone who experiences more severe symptoms such as trouble breathing, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, difficulty eating or drinking, or confusion should contact their health care provider or seek emergency care.
Solano County Health & Social Services will be providing free influenza vaccines at the KROC Center, located at 586 East Wigeon Way, Suisun City on January 27, 2018 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. For other locations that offer influenza vaccine, visit http://VaccineFinder.org.