The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed the county’s first two influenza-associated deaths of the 2017-2018 flu season.
The two individuals who died, a middle-aged woman and an elderly man, both had underlying health conditions.
“Although most people with flu will recover without problems, these two deaths are a reminder that the flu can be a serious illness,” said Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH, Interim Health Officer for Los Angeles County. “Vaccination is the best method to protect yourself and those around you from the flu.”
With flu activity low but rising in Los Angeles County, now is an excellent time to get vaccinated. Early surveillance conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that this year’s vaccine will be a good match for the strains that are currently circulating. Public Health and the CDC recommend flu vaccination for everyone greater than 6 months old.
Healthy people who feel they don’t need to be vaccinated should still get the vaccine to reduce the likelihood of acquiring and transmitting flu to others in their community, especially the elderly, the young and those with weakened immune systems.
“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,” Gunzenhauser said.
Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. Pneumonia is the most common complication of the flu. Flu can also aggravate underlying health conditions like heart disease or asthma. Annually, thousands of people nationwide are hospitalized or die from influenza-associated illness.
Groups of people that are at high risk for flu complications include children younger than 5 years, adults 65 years and older, and pregnant women. Medical conditions such as asthma, chronic lung or heart disease, diabetes and being overweight (body-mass index >40) can also increase your risk for flu complications.
People at higher risk for complications from the flu should seek medical care as soon as they begin to feel ill, whether or not they have been vaccinated.
In addition to getting a flu vaccine, people can stay healthy by practicing good hygiene. This includes washing your hands, covering your coughs and sneezes, not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, and staying home if you’re sick.
For more information about the flu including vaccination locations, please visit the Public Health website at http://bit.ly/LACflu. Residents may also call the LA County Information Line at 2-1-1.