1st Flu Death of the Season Reported in L.A. County as Influenza Activity Increases

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Touro Medical School student Caitlin Harris administers a flu vaccine to a person in a car during a drive-thru flu shot clinic at Doctors Medical Center on Nov. 6, 2014, in San Pablo. (Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The first flu-associated death of the season in Los Angeles County killed an elderly woman who lived in the Pomona Valley, public health officials said Monday.

The woman, who had underlying medial conditions, came down with type B influenza, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Flu activity has been increasing in the last few weeks and could continue to increase as the season continues, the department stated. The flu season may peak in January and February.

Through Dec. 13, no California flu deaths for patients aged up to 64 years had been reported to the state public health department.

The age and date of death for the Los Angeles County victim was not provided, and the county Department of Public Health media representatives did not immediately respond to a request for that information.

The announcement of the death gave public health officials cause to urge residents to get flu vaccines. This year’s vaccine protects against a number of strains circulating locally, the Department of Public Health stated.

“Give yourself, your family, friends and community the gift of health by doing what you can to prevent influenza. Get vaccinated,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, interim county health officer.

Gunzenhauser advised that infants, pregnant and older people, as well as those with chronic medical conditions, should be quickly evaluated if they develop symptoms that could be flu. Early evaluation could lead to the prescription of antiviral medications, which are “particularly effective in treating influenza when they are started soon after symptoms begin,” the department stated.

Gunzenhauser also recommended people wash their hands frequently and stay home if they are sick.

Information about the flu and where to find flu vaccines is on the county Department of Public’s Health website.

According to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show widespread flu activity in the U.S. South and Midwest.  California, by comparison, had “regional” flu activity for the week ending Dec. 13, the most recent for which data was available.