Flu-related deaths on the rise in California

Kelsey Gerckens, KEYT NewsChannel 3 Reporter, kelsey.gerckens@keyt.com
POSTED: 05:07 PM PST Jan 21, 2014    UPDATED: 06:12 PM PST Jan 22, 2014 
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VENTURA, Calif. -

Flu-related deaths are on the rise.  This past week the California Department of Public Health reported 38 flu-related deaths in California.  One of those deaths was a woman in her 20s from Santa Barbara County.

Influenza viruses are spread when a person who has the flu coughs, sneezes or touches a surface handled by others.  Unlike many other respiratory infections, the flu can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications.

Health officials say this year's flu is different compared to years past because the dangerous H1N1 strain is to blame for 96 percent of this years flu cases.

"People from all across the age spectrum are getting influenza.  In fact, we have had 17 people hospitalized in Ventura County with the flu, four were in the ICU, of those 17 people 14 of them were under 65 years of age, which is an unusually distribution for hospitalizations," says Dr. Robert Levin the Public Health Officer for Ventura County Public Health

In Santa Barbara County, the flu has claimed one life and sent three people to the ICU, according to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.

The flu season generally starts in October, but in Southern California it doesn't really pick up until late January.  Dr. Levin says if you haven't gotten a flu shot it is not too late, but the sooner you get it the better.

There are dozens of flu shot clinics in the upcoming days.

For information on flu clinics in Ventura County follow this link.

For information on where to get a flu shot in Santa Barbara County follow this link.