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Orange County's First Flu Death This Season Is a South OC Woman

Unidentified, she was only 28 years old. 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
Eileen G. January 03, 2014 at 12:03 PM
I'm curious if she had a flu shot.
Kevin Mackie January 05, 2014 at 01:24 PM
It seems like you are trying to stir up a panic having this be the main article for at least three days and not having any new info to go along with it. Have something new to add leave it as top story otherwise move on with new headlines.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) January 05, 2014 at 07:29 PM
Hi Kevin, Sorry about that, but Pete's been on vacation. I'll let the person watching this site know.
GreenInOC January 05, 2014 at 08:53 PM
@Kevin Mackie, news agencies, in their initial reports, included the information that this woman "had an underlying medical condition/s". Most reported "condition" while a few reported "conditions".
Penny Arévalo (Editor) January 05, 2014 at 08:55 PM
This is a wire report, but I did follow up with more questions. It's plural: "The woman who died of the flu did have underlying medical issues." But that's all I could get Ms. Thompson to say.

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