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UPDATE: Flu deaths in California jump to 243

Both state and county report declines in new cases

Posted: February 17, 2014 2:58 p.m.
Updated: February 17, 2014 5:15 p.m.

County and state health officials say the danger from this season’s flu virus isn’t over yet, although reported cases declined in both areas last week.

Deaths statewide from influenza rose to 243 cases as of the end of last week, with 33 of those deaths reported in Los Angeles County, the state’s most populous.

Another 41 cases were being investigated as possible flu-related deaths.

Although the most susceptible to the flu are the elderly, pregnant women, infants, or those with other health conditions, this season’s strain has been particularly hard on middle-aged people, health officials said.

Four of the 243 deaths were reported among pediatric patients.

“The downward trend in the number of influenza cases is a good sign, but the season is far from over,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health and the state’s health officer.

“Unfortunately, this influenza season is still severe and the number of influenza-related deaths continues to rise. Vaccination is still the best way to prevent illness and the spread of illness.”

By this time last year, the state health department had received reports of a total of 26 influenza fatalities; in all of the 2012-13 season, a total of 106 deaths were reported.

The dominant strain this season is the H1N1 strain, also known as swine flu. The strain seriously affects young and middle-aged people.




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