California’s Flu Death Rate Surpasses 300
According to California state officials, over 300 residents so far have died from the flu this season. This rate is 10 times higher than the death toll last year during this time and the highest in the state since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Despite the high numbers, the officials stated that within the past week, the rate appears to have slowed down significantly.
The total number of deaths as of Friday was 302. The city of Los Angeles has been hit the hardest with 44 confirmed deaths. The director of the California Department of Public Health, Dr. Ron Chapman noted that this year's deaths were mostly in people under 65-years-old. Six of the deaths were in children. The state health officials found that many of the cases involved people with underlying health conditions. The officials are still investigating another 19 deaths.
The officials stated that this week's death roll was 24, which is more than half of the weekly deaths in California during late January and into February. During those weeks, the average number of deaths due to the flu was 50. The officials stated that the fatalities are mostly caused by the deadly H1N1 flu strain, which is also known as the swine flu. This strain tends to affect younger and seemingly healthier people.
"The influenza season continues and it's not too late for vaccination, which is still the best way to prevent illness and the spread of illness," said Dr. Chapman according to the Los Angeles Times.
During the same point in time last year, California had the flu-related death toll of 34. In the overall 2012-2013 season, the death toll was 106. The officials believe that the death toll will continue to increase, but at a much slower rate.