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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Severe flu virus season hits California

This year’s flu season has seen an alarming number of deaths in California. The number of confirmed influenza deaths has increased by 52 as of Jan. 31 to a total of 147 confirmed deaths in the state of California. An additional 44 deaths are still under investigation by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

“The increasing number of influenza-related deaths points to the severity of this flu season,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the CDPH.

The CDPH reported that the total number of deaths reported for the entire 2012-13 influenza season was 106.

The CDPH does not have any recorded influenza-related deaths in Yolo County for this season, but that does not mean that immunizations and precautions are not necessary. The CPDH has a reported 15 deaths from the neighboring Sacramento County, which is the second to Los Angeles County, which has the largest amount of deaths in any county in California.

“What is very concerning this influenza season is that the influenza is disproportionately affecting those younger and healthier individuals under the age of 65,” said Beth Gabor, a representative with the Yolo County Health Department.

According to the Yolo County Health Department, the predominant flu virus this flu season is the H1N1. The health department also said that in 2009, the H1N1 virus did not follow the traditional flu season, but it is still too early to tell just how long the season will last.

This means that all those healthier and younger individuals under the age of 65 who might not think that a flu shot is necessary might be wrong, and might possibly be at a higher risk for the flu.

“The flu shot has been effective so far, although it is still possible to get the flu even though you have been vaccinated. The vaccine greatly reduces the risk of becoming ill with the strains of influenza virus,” said Stephanie Nardini, a family nurse practitioner and urgent care manager with the UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services,

Although the City of Davis recognizes that California has been hit hard by the influenza epidemic, they have not acted on the outbreak.

“No changes have been made in response to the influenza epidemic,” said Brian Mickelson, transportation manager for the City of Davis.

Mickelson said nothing will be altered in regard to City of Davis’ public transportation routes or policies. That means that all the routes for Unitrans at UC Davis will remain the same as well.

The Yolo County Health Department held a free flu vaccine clinic on Feb. 5, in partnership with the West Sacramento Fire Department and the City of West Sacramento. Additionally, local healthcare providers throughout the county are still offering vaccinations for the flu season.

Gabor said that the free flu vaccination clinic that was held on Feb. 5 may not necessarily be the last mass clinic. She said if there is a need for vaccinations, mass clinics would be scheduled.

The Yolo County Health Department has regularly scheduled  immunization clinics on Mondays, located at 137 N. Cottonwood St. in Woodland. Vaccinations at the clinic are $10, but all those who want the shot regardless of financial status will be able to receive the shot.

UC Davis Student Health Center experts say in addition to being vaccinated, it is also very important to practice disease prevention habits to prevent infection.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that individuals should avoid close contact with sick people, and stay home for at least 24 hours. If sick, limit contact with others, cover nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and wash hands often with soap and water. For those who already have the flu, UC Davis Student Health experts said that getting the flu shot will not help their current illness, because it takes approximately two weeks to get the maximum protection for the flu vaccine.

Experts maintain that getting a flu shot is the best way to prevent illness, and it is important to get a shot as soon as possible.

“Teleconferences have been consecutively held for the last month [and] the purpose of these conferences is to provide the most up-to-date information concerning influenza activity in the state of California,” said Norma Arceo, a public informant officer with the CDPH.

Additional information and resources about the current influenza season may be found at CDPH.CA.gov or CDC.gov.

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