The California Department of Public Health is reporting the state has recorded the first flu-related fatality of a person under 65 years of age for the season.
The death occurred in Los Angeles County.
"As this unfortunate case illustrates, the flu can be deadly and causes thousands of fatalities each year in the United States," said CDPH Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. "Fortunately, people can get vaccinated to help keep them from getting sick and spreading the flu to others."
While this is the first influenza-associated death in a patient under the age of 65 reported this season in California, CDPH has received reports of 11 confirmed influenza-associated cases that required treatment in an intensive care unit, and five influenza outbreaks in the state this year. Deaths and hospitalizations due to influenza in persons under 65 years of age are reportable in California to monitor the seasonal severity of influenza.
Each year, flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands or sometimes tens of thousands of deaths in the United States. To reduce this threat, CDPH recommends the annual flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older, including pregnant women.
While seasonal flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, flu activity is usually highest between December and February, and can last through the spring.
Common symptoms of the flu include fever or feeling feverish, a cough and/or sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, chills, fatigue and body aches. Children may also have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
To stop the spread of flu and other respiratory illnesses, Californians should also:
• Stay home when sick;
• Cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue and properly dispose of the used tissue;
• Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Californians are encouraged to contact their health care providers, clinics or pharmacies about obtaining the flu vaccine. Some local health departments may also offer low- or no-cost flu immunizations.