timberland chelsea boot Flu torrent brings more deaths in Ventura County
A flu season that has filled emergency rooms and triggered hospital admissions contributed to four more deaths in Ventura County, officials said Monday.The fatalities, all involving people ages 65 and older, bring the season’s local flu death total to nine. A year ago, three Ventura County residents died in a flu season that stretched into May.All of the current season’s nine fatalities were learned of after Christmas as part of a torrent felt across the state.Read more: Flu sweeps across Ventura County, sending many to emergency roomsCalifornia Department of Public Health officials confirmed Monday that flu contributed to the deaths of 27 people younger than age 65 across the state as of the end of December. That tally compares to four deaths across the state at the same time a year ago.The state count includes only people younger than age 65. The Ventura County calculations cover all ages. Of the nine deaths, all but one involved people ages 65 or older, said county Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin.”Influenza has always sought out people over 65 years of age preferentially and (people) under 2 yearsof age,” Levin said. “The immune system is weaker and less experienced.”Hospitals in Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks said last week the flu has brought dramatic increases to their emergency room volumes. That surge appeared to continue Monday with an emergency room doctor at Los Robles Hospital Medical Center in Thousand Oaks texting “it’s crazy here.”Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have reported outbreaks and some doctors say their offices have been inundated. Some but not all pharmacies have also struggled to find enough of the antiviral medication, Tamiflu,Levin said heasked the state Friday to contact the drug’s manufacturerand take steps that could make the medication more available.Bob Purcell, spokesman for Tamiflu’s manufacturer, Genentech, said there is a robust supply of the medication nationally but said spot shortages can happen in specific areas.Santa Barbara County public health officials said Monday six people in the countydied from flu over the last two weeks, all older than age 65. That’s double the number of flu deaths in the region for the entire season a year ago.”The current numbers exceed where we were at this time during the 2009 10 H1N1 pandemic,” said Dr. Charity Dean, Santa Barbara County public health officer, referring to the swine flu outbreak. “What we are seeing is unprecedented compared to the last 10 years of flu seasons.”But doctors and public health officials still urge people to get vaccinated. They contend the shot may help reduce the severity of the flu.”It’s all we have,” added Dr. Carey Chronis, a Ventura pediatrician. “Ten percent is better than 0 percent.”Doctors say the H3N2 strain can also cause more severe symptoms than other flu strains. Levin said theories that the Thomas Fire could play a role in the severity of illnesses are at least possible.