Flu season off to a deadly start

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It looks like we’re heading into a tough flu season as county public health officials have already confirmed two flu-related deaths in Kern County this season. There have also been three non-fatal ICU cases. 

Flu season runs from November through march. We are just over two months into the season and we’ve already matched the number of flu deaths recorded last season. 

“The flu is very serious, it can lead to serious complications and even death,” said Michelle Corson, public information officer for Kern County Public Health Department.

Last year’s flu killed two people in Kern County and according to numbers from the state department of public health, there were over 300 flu-related deaths across California.

With two recent deaths in Kern County, we’re likely to see an even deadlier flu season.

We’re not alone. According to data from the California State Department of Public Health,  nine of the 10 U.S. department of health and human services’ surveillance regions reported a rise in patient visits for influenza-related symptoms.

Since September 30, 36 people have died in California from the flu. Last year by this time, there were just seven deaths. 

“The fact that these deaths are rising so early in the season, it’s concerning, and it’s only going to get worse before we get better,” said Dr. Michelle Quiogue.

While the numbers are alarming and suggest we are on the fast track to surpassing last years death toll, health officials say the flu is unpredictable. They recommend you stay prepared. 

“The most important way to protect yourself is to get the flu shot,” said Quiogue. “That gives us a head start so our bodies immune system can get weapons ready, ahead of time and we can start fighting the infection on day one.”

Besides getting the flu shot, officials provided these tips to avoid getting sick:

  • 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
     

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