U.S. flu activity low, but Los Angeles confirms a women died

Oct. 25, 2013 at 11:27 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- U.S. influenza activity remains low, but Los Angeles County confirmed its first death -- a woman with an underlying medical condition, an official says.

Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, director of public health and health officer, says the woman resided in the San Fernando Valley and the particular strain of influenza was identified as type B.

"The Department of Public Health encourages everyone six months of age and older to get their flu vaccination now," Fielding says in a statement.

"We cannot predict how severe or how mild this flu season will be but the earlier you get your seasonal flu vaccine; either through the influenza shot or nasal spray, the sooner you will be protected from the flu. The nasal spray flu vaccine is approved for use in healthy people ages two through 49 who are not pregnant. Practice basic hygiene, too, such as hand washing, to prevent the spread of influenza and other respiratory diseases."

Recent surveillance in Los Angeles County shows both the A and B influenza strains are circulating sporadically, Fielding says. Because immunity from flu vaccination declines over time and the strain of the flu virus changes from year to year, it is important to get vaccinated annually.

Nationwide, for the week ending Oct. 19, of 3,513 specimens tested, 3.8 percent were positive for influenza, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness was low at 1.2 percent.

Texas and Mississippi experienced low influenza-like illness activity, 48 states and New York City experienced minimal influenza-like illness activity and the District of Columbia had insufficient data, the CDC says.

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