LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) confirmed the first flu-associated death for the 2018-2019 flu season. The individual who died was an elderly resident with underlying health conditions.
“We extend our condolences to the family for their loss. This is a sad reminder that the flu can be a serious illness, especially for the elderly, young children and people with weakened immune systems,” said Muntu Davis, MD, MPH, Los Angeles County Health Officer. “I would like to remind everyone that even if you’re healthy, you can still get seriously sick from the flu and spread the illness to others. Immunization is the best method to protect yourself and reduce the likelihood of spreading flu to others in your community.”
Every year, thousands of people nationwide are hospitalized or die from flu-related illness. The 2017-18 season had 278 reported flu deaths in Los Angeles County, higher than any season since flu associated deaths became reportable in 2010. Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend flu immunization for everyone greater than 6 months old.
Some people are at higher risk for serious illness or death from the flu, including children younger than 5 years, adults 65 years and older, pregnant women, people with medical conditions such as asthma, chronic lung or heart disease, diabetes or who are overweight.
If you are at higher risk for complications from the flu, you should seek medical care as soon as they begin to feel ill, whether or not they have been immunized. Anti-viral medication can shorten the duration of the flu and can reduce the risk of complications or death. These medications work best when taken within 48 hours of becoming sick but can still be beneficial if used later in the course of illness.
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.
In addition to getting immunized, 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.