For Immediate Release:
February 02, 2018
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) reports that high levels of influenza (flu) activity continue in Los Angeles County. While it is hard to predict how long the influenza season will last, Public Health expects influenza activity to remain elevated for several weeks to come. Influenza A (H3N2) viruses are the most common this season; H3N2- predominant seasons tend to be more severe.
To date, there are 158 confirmed influenza-associated deaths in Los Angeles County. By comparison, there were a total of 80 confirmed influenza-associated deaths during the entire flu season last year. Nearly 85% of deaths have occurred in adults over 65 years old and one death occurred in a child under 18 years old.
“It is not too late to get the influenza vaccine”, said Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH, Interim Health Officer for Los Angeles County. "Although the influenza vaccine can vary in how well it works, it remains the best way to prevent influenza illness and serious influenza-associated complications." Residents can receive free flu shots at Public Health clinics; information about clinic locations and hours is available at: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/chs/phcenters.htm.
Other steps people can take to protect themselves against influenza illness include washing hands often with soap and water, avoiding close contact with sick people, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth. People who are sick with flu-like illness should stay home from school or work for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone in order to prevent spreading flu to others.
Common symptoms of flu include: fevers, chills headache, cough, sore throat, and muscle/body aches. Symptoms of flu usually come on sudden and strong. Groups of people at high risk for flu complications include children younger than 5 years, adults 65 years and older, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions that can weaken the immune system. People at higher risk for complications from the flu should seek medical care as soon as they begin to feel ill, whether or not they have been vaccinated. Anti- viral medication like oseltamivir (available generically or under the tradename Tamiflu®) and zanamivir (available under the tradename Relenza®) can shorten the duration of the flu and can reduce the risk of hospitalization and 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.
For more information about the flu, including information on caring for a child sick with flu, visit www.publichea lth.lacounty.gov.
For a video on influenza, visit http://bit.ly/FluVideoLAC.
The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of over 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health comprises nearly 4,100 employees and has an annual budget of $1 billion. To learn more about Los Angeles County Public Health, please visit www.publichea lth.lacounty.gov, and follow LA County Public Health on social media at twitter.com/lap ublichealth, facebook.co m/lapublichealth and youtube.com/ lapublichealth.