On Friday the California State Department of Public Health confirmed that seven people under the age of 65 have died from the H1N1 virus, also known as “swine flu.”
California health officials said they will continue to investigate 28 more deaths to see if H1N1 was the cause.
Last month, Texas health officials announced that eight people were admitted to Conroe Regional Medical Center for influenza-like symptoms, and four had died. Officials there confirmed that two of the living patients have the H1N1 virus.
The Texas State Department of Health also conducts a weekly surveillance of the influenza virus, tracking mortality in pediatrics. As of Thursday, the death toll for children has reached five, and there are 1,254 lab-tested positive cases of an influenza virus this week alone.
The H1N1 strain is the same virus that brought about the 2009 pandemic that mainly affected children, pregnant women and the elderly. But it seems that this year, mostly young, healthy adults (under age 65) are being infected and in some cases, fatally so.
It is known so far that in one California case, a 30-year-old man from Coachella Valley died this week. The Riverside County health officials are looking into whether he had a flu vaccine or if there were other complications that could have attributed to his death.
Canada’s Thunder Bay has confirmed the H1N1 strain in four out of five recent flu deaths.
February and March are peak times for flu season in many parts of the country and experts expect the number of flu cases to rise. Health authorities say it is not too late to get a flu vaccine and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone, six months and older, get an annual flu shot.
“Some people wrongly believe that it is too far into the flu season,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, a Riverside County’s public health officer told the LA Times. “That is not the case. There is still time and the vaccine is readily available.”
S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on twitter @ReporterandGirl or on Facebook.com/TheReporterandTheGirl and visit her website at www.SCRhyne.com