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First Flu Death of Season Is In South O.C.

A 28-year-old woman is the first flu-related death in Orange County of anyone under the age of 65. Experts say this year's strain is afflicting young and middle-aged adults.

The beginning stages of an influenza infection. Image courtesy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The beginning stages of an influenza infection. Image courtesy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A 28-year-old San Juan Capistrano woman was confirmed today as the first person to die from an influenza-related illness this season in Orange County.

The unidentified woman, who died sometime last week, is the first flu-related death in Orange County of anyone younger than 65, according to Deanne Thompson of the Orange County Health Care Agency. Flu-related deaths of people 65 or older are not reported in the state.

Reports of the disease have been on the rise over the past couple of weeks, Thompson said.

So far, there have been eight “severe” cases of the flu this season, up from three at this time last year, Thompson said. A case is categorized as severe if the victim must be hospitalized in an intensive care unit or dies, Thompson added.

Most of the cases are Influenza A, and the majority of those are because of a strain called pH1N1, Thompson said.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials issued an alert recently about how the strain has afflicted young and middle-aged adults.

Officials are encouraging residents to get flu shots, Thompson said.

There's “plenty of vaccine available,” Thompson said.

Flu shots cannot cause anyone to get the virus, Thompson said.

Another way to help stem the tide of flu is to avoid going to work when sick, covering the nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing and washing hands thoroughly, Thompson said.

Nearby, San Diego County has seen an uptick in the flu rate but so far, no deaths.

To get more information on how to get a flu shot, call (800) 564-8448.

--City News Service

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