Los Angeles County health officials are seeing an increase in influenza activity, with at least 70 flu-related deaths reported in the state so far this season.
In an advisory on Friday, the L.A. County Department of Public Health said that it’s not too late to get a flu shot for the season, which started in late September.
State officials echoed that advice, noting that flu activity typically doesn’t let up until around spring.
“While every influenza season is different, influenza activity usually returns to baseline levels in April or May,” the California Department of Public Health told KTLA in a statement. “Since influenza will likely be circulating for many more weeks, it is not too late to get vaccinated if you have not already received a flu shot this season.”
L.A. County is “experiencing high levels of influenza activity,” county officials said Friday, underscoring that anyone age 6 months or older should receive immunization every year.
About 10% of visits to local emergency rooms concerned influenza-like illnesses, county officials told KTLA.
“This is a high level, similar to what was seen during the peak of the 2017-2018 influenza season,” a statement from the department said.
Officials in L.A. County reported the first flu-related death this season in October. Just last Wednesday, the city of Long Beach announced its first fatal case.
Statewide, 70 flu-related deaths were recorded by the California Department of Public Health between Sept. 29, 2019 and Jan. 4, 2020—higher than the 52 fatalities reported by this time last year.
A total of 618 flu-related deaths were recorded in California in the 2018-2019 season.
However, at this same time during the 2017-2018 season, 207 deaths were blamed on influenza, according to state officials.
Two patients who have died in the current season were children, and six patients were between ages 18 to 49. The majority were older adults: 17 patients were 50 to 64 years old, while 45 patients were at least 65.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, influenza B viruses have predominated the latest season, which has not happened since 1992. The CDC’s website has more information about its recommendations on vaccinations.
Cough, headache, and fever? It could be #flu.
Flu can come on suddenly, causing mild to severe illness, and at times even lead to death. Watch to learn about symptoms of flu. pic.twitter.com/1aXLvztYqH
— CDC Flu (@CDCFlu) December 30, 2019