An elderly patient has been reported as the first death from influenza this season in Santa Barbara County, according to the county Public Health Department.

The victim was over age 65 and died due to complications related to the flu within the past two weeks, said Susan Klein-Rothschild, deputy director for Public Health.

She provided no other details about gender, city of residence or the strain of the virus.

The most common flu strain this year has been H3N2, which has been particularly resistant to the flu vaccine, Klein-Rothschild said.

She said it’s common for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create a vaccine months ahead of flu season — typically lasting from September to April — and to have the strains morph over time.

“The flu strain has mutated so the coverage of this vaccine is not as good as we’d like it to be,” Klein-Rothschild said. “We’ve seen a little bit of an increase, although nothing like other parts of the country have seen. In California, our flu season hits us a little later.”

CDC data show that flu cases are widespread in all but a handful of states, including California.

The flu usually comes on suddenly and has symptoms similar to the common cold, such as fever, coughing, sore throat, runny nose, body aches and fatigue.

Klein-Rothschild said the health department has been monitoring local hospitals and clinics for flu patients to track trends.

“Certainly we want everybody to stay healthy,” she said. “Use good hand hygiene and care, and stay home when sick.”

Despite the slightly weaker vaccine, she said the health department recommends locals still get the vaccine and take the everyday precautions to help stop the spread of germs.

The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older, noting that infants and those over 65 are prone to develop more severe cases during H3N2 seasons.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at gpotthoff@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.