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New Flu Deaths Reported In Contra Costa, Sonoma, Napa Counties

Contra Costa County reported its second flu death Wednesday, a 48-year-old man who died in December; Sonoma County reported a third flu death, a 61-year-old woman with a preexisting medical condition.

Flu virus. Credit: Patch archive
Flu virus. Credit: Patch archive
By Bay City News

The death toll from this year's flu season continued to rise Wednesday with reports from health officials of three new flu-related deaths in the Bay Area and two in Monterey County.

The recent reports brought the total number of flu-related deaths reported in the Bay Area to 21, most of them linked to the H1N1 strain of the virus, also known as the "swine flu."

That figure is probably low, however, because the California Department of Health only requires hospitals to report deaths of patients under 65 years old.

Napa County reported its first confirmed flu-related death Wednesday, an 84-year-old man with multiple medical issues, according to county spokeswoman Elizabeth Emmett.

The county has not yet confirmed what strain the man had but is working on the assumption that it is probably H1N1, Emmett said. The county also has five people currently hospitalized for the flu, and has had a total of 15 hospitalizations since Jan. 6, Emmett said.

Contra Costa County reported its second flu death Wednesday, a 48-year-old man who died in December, but whose death was confirmed on Tuesday as being linked to the H1N1 strain.

The majority of this season's deaths have been linked to swine flu, which first emerged in 2009. The H1N1 strain is known to be more dangerous to young and middle-age adults than other strains of the flu.

Sonoma County also reported a third flu death confirmed to be linked to the swine flu that occurred Wednesday, in a 61-year-old woman with preexisting medical issues.

The county reported the death of a 54-year on Tuesday and a 23-year-old male earlier this season.

Sonoma County has had a total of 12 severe cases of influenza since the season began, meaning patients were hospitalized in intensive care or died, according to Dr. Karen Holbrook, the county's interim health officer.

Solano County reported its first death of the season on Tuesday after a Vallejo man in his 40s was confirmed as infected with the H1N1 strain. The man had chronic medical conditions before he fell ill, according to Solano County officials.

There have also been 10 people hospitalized in Solano County with swine flu and other strains of influenza, according to health officials.

San Mateo County reported its second and third flu-related deaths this week on Monday and Tuesday, county health system spokeswoman Robyn Thaw said.

Two of the three patients that died had underlying medical conditions and at least two of the cases were confirmed as H1N1, Thaw said. Another eight people in the county have been hospitalized due to the flu, Thaw said.

In additional to those fatalities, there have been four deaths in Santa Clara County, three in Alameda County and two in Marin County.

There has been one death each in Santa Cruz and San Francisco counties.

Outside the Bay Area, Monterey County also reported two deaths linked to swine flu today, both of them in adults under the age of 65. Another six Monterey County residents under the age of 65 have been sick enough to require hospitalization in intensive care due to influenza, officials said today.

Health officials are urging everyone ages 6 months and older to get vaccinated.

Those considered at highest risk are those 65 and older, children less than two years old, pregnant women and those with medical conditions like asthma, heart disease and weakened immune systems.

The peak of flu season is between January and March, and the vaccine takes about two weeks after inoculation to be fully effective, according to health officials.

Copyright © 2014 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

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Bookworm January 17, 2014 at 09:30 AM
So none of those deceased had had flu shots?

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