Confirming what many under-the-weather residents already know, Los Angeles County is seeing very high levels of influenza activity, the county Department of Health reported Friday.
As of the end of surveillance week 52, ending on December 30, the county health department had received a total of 26 confirmed reports of influenza-associated deaths since the start of the 2017-18 season.
The mean age of the deaths is 76 years (range: 46-100 years).
During surveillance week 52, 37.5 percent of respiratory specimens tested in the health department’s sentinel surveillance laboratories were positive for influenza.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the predominant strain of flu circulating is influenza A H3N2.
Seasons in which A(H3N2) viruses predominate are associated with more hospitalizations and death in persons aged 65 years and older compared with other age groups.
In response to the increasing local flu activity, the county DPH released a health alert with guidance on treatment.
Because of the current high flu activity in the county, some skilled nursing facilities have expressed concern about the supply of Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) in their facilities. There is currently no shortage of Tamiflu.
However, facilities should be aware that in the event of a flu or unknown respiratory outbreak within their facility, we recommend that all residents (both ill and well) be provided with antivirals.
Facilities should have a plan for acquiring additional antiviral doses if necessary, especially if the outbreak occurs on a weekend or holiday. The Department of Health has resources for infection prevention at SNFs including guidance for influenza outbreaks.