SACRAMENTO, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- California state health officials say the confirmed death toll for influenza increased by 56 last week for a total of 202 confirmed deaths for this flu season.
Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health and state health officer, said four of the 202 flu-related deaths were pediatric deaths. There are an additional 41 deaths under investigation, not yet confirmed, Chapman said.
The total number of flu-related deaths reported for the entire 2012-2013 influenza season was 106.
Public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten in San Diego said this year's dominant flu strain is H1N1, the same one from the pandemic of 2009. During most flu seasons, the very young and very old are the hardest hit because they generally have weaker immune systems than those of adults in their prime of life.
However, H1N1 tends to sicken young adults and those in middle age.
Wooten said county records showed nearly 52 percent of those who died this year from influenza were age 60 and younger, reported The San Diego Union-Tribune.
In contrast, last year, when H3N2 was the dominate strain, 25 percent of those who died were younger than age 60.
For example, 48-year-old Lisa Petricca of Lakeside, Calif., died Monday, her husband, Tony, said on caringbridge.org, a website that helps families communicate during a medical issue.
Andrea Harter, Lisa Petricca's sister-in-law, said Petricca was "perfectly healthy" before suddenly coming down with the flu in early January.
A month ago, doctors induced a coma to help her fight the virus, The Union-Tribune said.
Although Petricca usually got a flu shot every year, she did not get one this year, her family said.