The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) confirms the first influenza-associated death in Los Angeles County for the 2016-2017 influenza season. The death occurred in a middle-aged man, from the northern part of Los Angeles County, who had significant pre-existing medical conditions. Laboratory testing identified the influenza virus strain as type A.
“Even though influenza activity in California and much of the country is currently at relatively low levels, the occurrence of this death should serve to inform everyone that influenza is now circulating within our County and can potentially cause very serious illness,” said Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH, Interim Health Officer for Los Angeles County. “Vaccination is the best method to protect oneself from the flu. Getting vaccinated against influenza protects both the person who receives the vaccine and also reduces the chance they will become ill and spread the flu to family and friends.”
Annually, thousands of people nationwide are hospitalized and die from the flu or its complications. Although each flu season is different, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that an average of 24,000 influenza-related deaths occur in the U.S. each year. Public Health anticipates that flu activity will increase as people get together for the holidays and as the winter season progresses. Because it can take up to two weeks to develop immunity from vaccination, now is the time to get vaccinated. Public Health and the CDC urge everyone older than 6 months to get vaccinated against the flu every year.
Surveillance conducted by the CDC indicates that this year’s vaccine closely matches the current circulating viral strains and should provide good protection against disease. This ‘community protection’ is important for those living in households or working with people who are more susceptible to severe outcomes from the flu (such as infants, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with medical conditions that may reduce their immunity).
People, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, who are at higher risk for severe influenza should seek medical evaluation if they experience a flu-like illness so that they can be considered for treatment with an antiviral medication. These medications are most effective in treating the flu when they are started soon after symptoms begin.
Public Health and the CDC recommend vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older.
Practice hand and respiratory hygiene to help reduce the chance of catching the flu.
Healthcare providers should consider antiviral medications for treatment and prevention of influenza, particularly among people at high-risk for severe influenza.
Information about the flu can be found at: www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/acd/flu.htm
Information from the CDC about the flu can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm
Visit www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/ip/flu/flulocatormain.htm for: a list of Public Health’s flu vaccination locations; a searchable map of pharmacies offering flu vaccines; a list of community clinics that offer vaccines at no-cost or a reduced cost; influenza educational materials.
Residents may also call the LA County Information Line at 2-1-1 for referrals to flu vaccination sites.
About Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises nearly 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $900 million. To learn more about the Department of Public Health and the work we do, please visit PublicHealth.LACounty.gov.