BY BAY CITY NEWS SERVICE
Two more influenza-related deaths were reported in Alameda County
Friday after the state Department of Public health announced fatal infections
of the virus from throughout the state.
There have been three cases of H1N1 strains of the flu leading to
deaths in Alameda County since the beginning of the winter season, county
public health department spokeswoman Sherri Willis said.
One was reported earlier this week and two more confirmed cases came in Friday, she said.
The three make for a total of 11 flu deaths that have been reported in Bay Area counties, including two in Marin County, two in Santa Clara County, and one each in San Mateo, Sonoma, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties.
California Department of Public Health doctors said seven confirmed influenza deaths of people under age 65 have been reported this sseason up until Jan. 4. There are 28 more influenza-related deaths are under investigation.
Six of the seven deaths reported by the state were from the H1N1 strain.
The seven deaths as of Jan. 4 were in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, Lassen, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Stanislaus counties.
None of the seven deaths were children, said Dr. James Watt, chief of the Division of Communicable Disease Control in the state's Department of Public Health.
The 28 deaths under investigation were reported after Jan. 4.
This season's H1N1 influenza strain is challenging and is affecting young adults and children, said Dr. Gil Chavez, the state's epidemiologist and deputy director of its Center for Infectious Diseases.
At least two of the seven who died had not been vaccinated and the
vaccination status of the other five is unknown, Chavez said.
Chavez said the number of confirmed influenza deaths is expected to rise by next Friday when the state releases the latest figures provided to the Department of Public Health from county public health departments.
Like the H1N1 influenza epidemic in 2009, the H1N1 virus this season does not discriminate by age, health officials said. The H1N1 virus in 2009 killed 607 people in California, Department of Public Health officials said.
The flu season typically peaks in February or March.
Those most at risk of contracting the H1N1 virus are the elderly,
pregnant women, infants and people with other health conditions.
PREVIOUSLY: Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014
A Sonoma County resident is among the growing number of recent Bay Area flu deaths, officials announced Thursday.
A 23-year-old who was previously healthy died from an H1N1 flu infection, interim Sonoma County Health Officer Karen Holbrook said in a press release.
KPIX5 identified the man as Santa Rosa resident Matthew "Matty" Walker, a Forestville native, and said he died on Wednesday.
His father told the TV station his son was initially treated for double pneumonia, and doctors induced a coma once the virus hit.
“Young people – they’re all powerful – but something can catch ‘em like this, they’re laying themselves open for possible serious consequences,” Cliff Walker told KPIX5.
Holbrook offered condolences in the press release.
"Our deepest sympathies go out to the family," she was quoted as saying. “While the vast majority of cases of flu have mild or moderate illness, sadly this tragic death reminds all of us that influenza can be a very serious illness.”
According to the Press Democrat, Walker worked at G & G Market in Santa Rosa.
A total of 10 Bay Area residents have died from the flu so far this season. The H1N1 strain spreading across the area is similar to the so-called "swine flu" that led to a pandemic in 2009-2010, according to health officials.
Click here for Napa County flu shot information.
Click here for CDC flu symptoms guidelines.
North Bay health officials offered these tips to protect yourself from the H1N1 flu virus:
- Get your flu vaccine. It is still widely available at health care facilities and local pharmacies.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. Parents should set a good example by washing their own hands frequently.
- Cover your cough, nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Avoid spreading germs by not touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Try to avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.
- Do not go to work or send children to school while ill. If sick, stay home at least 24 hours after being free of fever (100° F [37.8°C]), or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications like Tylenol or Advil.