The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Monday confirmed the first death associated with the flu for the 2019-2020 season, a middle-aged person with underlying health conditions.
“We extend our condolences to the family for their loss,” said Muntu Davis, MD, MPH, Los Angeles County Health Officer.
“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,” Davis said. “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 the flu to others in your community.”
Every year, thousands of people nationwide are hospitalized or die from flu-related illness. The 2018-19 season had 125 reported flu deaths in Los Angeles County. Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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 you begin to feel ill, whether you have been immunized or not. 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 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.
You can get the immunization from your regular health care provider or local pharmacy. Immunization is also provided at no-cost or low-cost at various locations throughout the county.
For more information, visit the Public Health website. Residents may also call the LA County Information Line at 2-1-1.