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Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 6:31 pm | Fair 59º


6 Influenza Deaths Reported in Santa Barbara County

Six people have died of influenza in Santa Barbara County within the last two weeks, which is significantly higher than usual, the Public Health Department said Monday.

Officials have said this flu season is a bad one, and the predominant strain, H3N2, causes more severe disease, more hospitalizations and more deaths.

In addition to the six deaths, which were all people over the age of 65, there are higher-than-usual positive influenza tests within Santa Barbara County and across California, according to Public Health.

“The current numbers exceed where we were at this time during the 2009-10 H1N1 pandemic,” Public Health Officer Dr. Charity Dean said in a statement. “What we are seeing is unprecedented compared to the last 10 years of influenza seasons.”

Nine flu deaths have been reported in Ventura County, the Ventura County Star reported

Local hospital emergency rooms are seeing a surge of patients, and people are asked to avoid using emergency services for routine flu cases that are not life-threatening, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department said.

Public Health officials encourage people to get vaccinated, and say it’s especially important for groups at highest risk of severe illness: adults over age 65, children under age 5, pregnant women, and those with underlying health conditions such as lung or heart disease.

Flu season resources are online here, along with a list of locations to get vaccinated. 

Other advice from the Public Health Department is below: 

When to seek medical care

» For most otherwise healthy individuals, it is best to recover at home. Rest, stay hydrated, and avoid contact with others.

» If seeking medical care for non-life threatening symptoms, people are encouraged to see their primary care provider, an outpatient clinic, or outpatient urgent care.

» Certain groups are at a higher risk of serious complications from influenza: those age 65 and over, children age 5 and under, pregnant women, and those with underlying health conditions. These groups should remain alert and seek treatment early from their primary care provider.

» In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention are: Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen; sudden dizziness; confusion; flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

» Seek emergency medical care for children with any of the following: Fast breathing or trouble breathing; difficulty breathing or chest pain; not drinking enough liquids; severe or persistent vomiting; not waking up or not interacting; being so irritable that the child does not want to be held; flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

What to do if you develop flu symptoms

» Symptoms similar to the seasonal flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue

» Avoid contact with others. Stay home and stay away from others as much as possible. Do not travel or go to work for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine and you feel capable of doing usual routines.

» Recover at home. Get plenty of rest and drink clear liquids. Most individuals will recover at home without needing medical care. If you have severe illness or are at high risk for flu complications, contact your health provider.

» Wear a face mask. When it is necessary to leave your home to go to the doctor’s office or when in common space shared with others, wear a face mask to decrease the spread of the virus to others.

» Cover your nose and mouth. When you cough or sneeze, cover with a tissue, and throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your shoulder or your elbow.

» Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

» Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, since germs spread this way.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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