Deadly flu season hits California particularly hard

A deadly flu season has hit hard in the Golden State.More patients are being hospitalized with flu-like sympto...

Posted: Jan 10, 2018 9:03 AM
Updated: Jan 10, 2018 9:03 AM

A deadly flu season has hit hard in the Golden State.

More patients are being hospitalized with flu-like symptoms, some stores have had spot shortages of flu medications, and there have been 27 flu-related deaths reported among patients younger than 65, according to the California Department of Public Health.

California has seen unusually high numbers of flu-related deaths and hospitalizations, health officials say

Widespread flu activity has been reported in 46 states nationwide

"Usually, at this time of year, we have reported in the neighborhood of three or four deaths in people under age 65," Dr. James Watt, chief of the Division of Communicable Disease Control at the state Department of Public Health, said Tuesday.

"It's possible that we're seeing higher numbers of deaths now because the season started earlier, and we will be tracking this closely, to see whether the number of deaths reported continues to be elevated," he said. Also, "hospitalizations and the outpatient visits, those are two things that we monitor closely to determine the severity of flu season. ... Both of those measures are above what we usually see for this time of year."

Hospitals across the state, such as some medical centers in the Kaiser Northern California and UCLA Health systems, have reported unusually high numbers of patients with flu-like symptoms. Widespread and high-level flu activity has emerged in other states across the country as well, such as Illinois and Texas.

"Virtually the entire country is reporting that same level of influenza activity," Watt said. "There are few states that are still reporting regional activity, but what we're seeing in California is quite similar to what's being reported across the country."

Widespread flu activity has been reported in 46 states nationwide, according to the latest flu report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 26 of those states, including California, flu activity has been classified as "high."

What explains the forceful flu season

The pervasiveness of the flu in the US appears to be similar to what was seen during peak flu season from 2014 to 2015, which was the most severe season in recent years, according to the CDC. During that season, influenza A H3N2 viruses dominated nationally.

The World Health Organization noted in its latest influenza update that overall flu activity has continued to increase across North America with detections of predominantly influenza A H3N2 viruses this season. In past years, the effectiveness of flu vaccines in general has been lower against H3N2 viruses than against other influenza A- or B-strain flu viruses.

"The predominant virus this year has been influenza A H3N2, and that is the virus that -- because it affects elderly and young children more than the others -- tend to be the ones that are more severe, and by severe I mean they have more hospitalizations and frequently more deaths in those years," said Lynette Brammer, head of the CDC's Domestic Influenza Surveillance team.

"This season is falling in line with other H3N2 seasons," she said. "It's probably a bad year, but a lot of H3N2 years are bad years, and this is not falling outside of what we would expect in a year where H3N2 viruses are predominant."

Additionally, flu activity has increased above baseline levels in most countries in northern and southwestern Europe, according to the WHO.

Last year, Australia had a worse flu season than usual, which some experts predicted would bode ill for Northern Hemisphere nations, including the US and Canada and across Europe. As it turns out, the most common influenza virus in Australia last season was influenza A H3N2.

"In general, we get in our season what the Southern Hemisphere got in the season immediately preceding us," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the United States' National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during Australia's flu season last year.

Across California and the rest of the US, the widespread flu season has led to some temporary shortages of flu medications (such as Tamiflu) in certain pharmacies, according to the CDC.

"At the start of the 2017-'18 season, manufacturers of influenza antiviral medications projected that they would have sufficient product on hand to meet even high demand for that product this season. However, it is not unusual for spot shortages to occur when flu activity is high," CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund wrote in an email.

"Patients may receive prescriptions for oseltamivir or zanamivir antiviral drugs. Oseltamivir is available in different formulations in generic and under the trade name 'Tamiflu,' and zanamivir is available under the tradename 'Relenza,' " she wrote. "I think the most important part of this is that patients can and should reach out to pharmacies to see what is available in their area."

It's important that antiviral drugs are used early to treat hospitalized patients, people with severe flu illness and people at high risk for complications from the flu, such as due to age or pregnancy, according to the CDC. Antiviral drugs work best when administered within two days of getting sick.

There is no widespread shortage of influenza vaccine or medications in California, said Dr. Gilberto Ch-vez, state epidemiologist and deputy director of the Center for Infectious Diseases at the California Department of Public Health.

"What has happened in some instances over the last week have been just spot shortages of the medication because of increased demand in some cities and in some pharmacies," he said. "We've been in contact with CDC; we've been in contact with manufacturers, distributors; we are sure there is no shortage of antivirals."

Rather, he added, in some areas "distribution hasn't quite kept up with demand."

Flu prevention tips

Health officials advise that if you haven't been vaccinated, there's still time to get your flu shot.

"People can get it any time they need to get it," Ch-vez said.

Though getting vaccinated remains important, the CDC also offers these tips to help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home from work and school and avoid running errands when sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands often to help protect you from germs.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth after touching something contaminated with germs.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is sick.
  • In general, get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods to stay healthy.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 38136

Reported Deaths: 1508
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12329786
Ramsey4855227
Stearns236119
Dakota233090
Anoka2200109
Nobles16686
Olmsted112415
Washington108240
Mower9512
Rice8427
Scott7154
Clay58738
Kandiyohi5731
Blue Earth4702
Wright4655
Todd4012
Carver3761
Lyon3122
Sherburne3125
Freeborn2920
Steele2311
Watonwan2240
Benton2153
St. Louis17815
Martin1685
Nicollet16612
Cottonwood1360
Goodhue1308
Winona12415
Crow Wing10612
Pine1030
Le Sueur1001
Chisago981
Otter Tail931
McLeod910
Carlton870
Dodge860
Polk812
Chippewa791
Unassigned7737
Isanti720
Waseca680
Douglas640
Itasca6412
Murray630
Meeker611
Morrison591
Becker560
Faribault560
Jackson550
Sibley542
Pennington510
Pipestone442
Renville352
Mille Lacs342
Wabasha330
Rock310
Beltrami300
Brown302
Fillmore300
Yellow Medicine300
Houston250
Swift211
Norman200
Wilkin203
Redwood180
Roseau160
Aitkin150
Cass152
Koochiching151
Wadena150
Big Stone140
Kanabec141
Marshall120
Grant110
Lincoln100
Pope100
Mahnomen81
Clearwater70
Hubbard60
Lake60
Traverse60
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 31430

Reported Deaths: 720
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6578179
Woodbury324144
Black Hawk228758
Buena Vista171211
Johnson12928
Dallas128129
Linn127782
Marshall104919
Scott79810
Story7753
Pottawattamie72611
Wapello70830
Dubuque69922
Crawford6782
Muscatine63844
Sioux4720
Tama46529
Wright3841
Louisa36113
Jasper32417
Plymouth3225
Warren2861
Dickinson2672
Washington2409
Webster2192
Hamilton1881
Cerro Gordo1781
Boone1481
Clay1340
Clarke1312
Allamakee1284
Mahaska11617
Clinton1131
Shelby1130
Poweshiek1058
Carroll981
Pocahontas961
Bremer946
Des Moines902
Franklin900
Emmet870
Henry863
Cedar841
Taylor790
Monona760
Cherokee751
Floyd752
Hardin750
Marion700
Benton671
Guthrie664
Sac640
Jefferson630
Osceola610
Jones580
Butler552
Hancock540
Humboldt541
Lee542
Harrison530
Buchanan521
Delaware511
Iowa510
Monroe516
Fayette500
Calhoun492
Madison472
Clayton443
Lyon440
Palo Alto410
Davis401
Grundy380
Winneshiek380
Mills370
Mitchell370
Kossuth350
Howard340
Jackson320
Chickasaw310
Lucas314
Greene290
Union280
Winnebago280
Ida240
Cass220
Keokuk211
Van Buren210
Appanoose203
Page200
Worth190
Audubon161
Unassigned160
Adair150
Ringgold150
Decatur110
Montgomery102
Wayne100
Adams80
Fremont70
Rochester
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 79°
Mason City
Scattered Clouds
77° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 79°
Albert Lea
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 75°
Austin
Scattered Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 75°
Charles City
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 78°
Hot, sticky, and stormy
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Seans 6am Weather 7/6

Image

House fire under investigation in Rochester

Image

Fireworks calls over holiday weekend

Image

Prepping for the postseason in Iowa

Image

Sean's 6pm Weather 7/5

Image

Alternative baseball hopes to come to the Med City in 2021

Image

FOURTH OF JULY IN AUSTIN AND STEWARTVILLE

Image

Seans 6pm Weather 7/4

Image

Fans excited for Honkers return

Image

Honkers fall to St. Cloud in home opener

Community Events