Sacramento County has confirmed that 18 residents, between the ages of 18 and 64, have died due to influenza, and that 84 influenza-confirmed patients have been admitted to local Intensive Care Units (ICUs). Those reported to have died include 10 women and eight men. The cases are predominantly the Influenza A, H1N1 strain. Some who died had underlying conditions, such as diabetes, and cancer.
However, some who died from H1N1 did not have underlying conditions, and were both relatively young and healthy. “We are concerned that young and healthy individuals are not getting vaccinated, because their demographic group is not typically severely impacted by influenza. What is different with H1N1, compared to the other strains, is that we are seeing severe disease in young and healthy people,” said Sacramento County Public Health Officer, Dr. Olivia Kasirye.
2013 saw a total of 16 flu-related deaths in Sacramento County. While the comparison of numbers may appear to provide perspective, the path of influenza is very dynamic, and, it is very difficult to project—during the season—the total number of people who will ultimately be affected by it.
Three strains of influenza are currently circulating in Sacramento County - H1N1 (which is a flu A strain), Influenza A and Influenza B. The good news is that the flu vaccine, which is still readily available, covers all three strains of the flu that have been detected.
Kasirye advises, “We have not yet reached the end of the flu season, which typically peaks in January and February. We are continuing to encourage all Sacramento County residents to get your flu vaccination, and if you think you have the flu, you should call your doctor.”
The California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend annual influenza vaccinations for everyone six months of age and older, including pregnant women. A person’s decision to receive the vaccination or not impacts the entire community, as a yearly flu vaccine not only protects the individual from illness, but also those nearby. It’s especially important to be vaccinated if you have regular contact with people more vulnerable to the complications of flu, including babies, children with asthma, and the elderly.
The flu is a serious respiratory illness caused by a virus. The flu comes on suddenly and symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, and body aches. Illness typically lasts two to seven days. Influenza may cause severe illness or even death in people such as the very young or very old, or those who have underlying health conditions.
In addition to getting vaccinated, it’s crucial to practice good health habits. If you become ill, you should take actions to stop the spread of germs, including:
- Seek medical attention if you have severe symptoms
- Cover your coughs and sneezes
- Wash your hands with soap/water
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
If you need information about immunization services for children and adults, or need to refer clients or get information regarding upcoming influenza clinics, please contact the Sacramento County Immunization Assistance Program at 916-875-SHOT (7468), Monday-Friday between 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, or use the Flu Vaccine Finder at www.flu.gov/ or the HealthMap Flu Vaccine Finder located at http://flushot.healthmap.org/