Flu deaths, eight times higher than last year's flu season

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -  

Confirmed deaths of influenza this season have gone up to more than two hundred around the state.  In Kern County, the number of flu-related deaths is eight-times higher than it was last year.

Hand sanitizer is often used around offices and schools, but its one of the most effective ways health officials say prevents the spread of germs.

Juan Serrano knows what’s it like to be sick.

“You’re just in bed all day with a fever, feeling bad,” he said.

And it’s one of the reasons why he takes all the necessary precautions to stay germ-free.

“I always carry hand sanitizer, a little bottle in my pack back,” said Serrano.

But the number of flu-related deaths is growing around the state.  Health officials report 202 people have died so far – and all were under the age of 65.

“While we’re concerned about flu every single year, we’re especially concerned because it seems to be very severe, also affecting age groups that ordinary would think, should be able to manage a flu infection without having to end up in the hospital or having severe illness,” said Dr. Claudia Jonah of the Kern County Public Health Department.

In Kern County, the flu has claimed 16 lives and the season isn’t over yet.  Last year, the number of flu-related deaths was two.

“If they are having symptoms that seem to be influenza, they need to get, very quickly get a recommendation from their health care provider to find out if it would advisable for them be on anti-viral or to do other things to try to minimize the chance of them ending up with severe illness,” said Jonah.

Common flu symptoms include runny or stuffy nose, chills, fatigue, nausea, sore throat and high fever. 

Public health officials say if you’re not feeling well, follow the three c’s of prevention clean your hands, confine your sickness and cover your cough.

“It’s just real important, to recognize, to do everything you can, not to expose yourself to influenza and not expose others,” she said.

Leaders with the public health department plan to release a flu update for Kern County Tuesday afternoon.

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Carlos is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carloscorrea23abc

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