First Death from Flu a 'Sad Reminder' Pasadenans Should Get Flu Shot to Protect Themselves

There's Still Time to Get a Flu Shot in the Pasadena Area

Published : Wednesday, October 30, 2019 | 5:02 AM

The first flu-related death was reported in Los Angeles Countyand it’s a sad reminder that Pasadenans and others should take precautions to guard against getting the flu.

While the middle-aged patient who died had underlying health conditions, according to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, the event triggered warnings from The Pasadena Public Health Department, Los Angeles County and Huntington Hospital who each reiterated the importance of getting a flu shot and taking precautions like hand-washing.

It is not expected to be the final flu-related death this year. Last year, during the 2018-2019 flu season, 125 people lost their lives from flu-related issues, according to the LA Department of Public Health.

“This is a sad reminder that the flu can be a serious illness, especially for the elderly, young children and people with weakened immune systems,” said Dr. Muntu Davis, Los Angeles County health officer, in a statement. “I would like to remind everyone that even if you’re healthy, you can still get seriously sick from the flu and spread the illness to others. Immunization is the best method to protect yourself and reduce the likelihood of spreading the flu to others in your community.”

Every year, influenza is an illness that causes a significant burden on the health systems in the United States. Manuel Carmona, acting Deputy Director of the City of Pasadena Public Health Department offered some tips.

“It is too early to project the intensity of this flu season,” Carmona said. “Each year, influenza is an illness that causes significant burden in the US. The CDC estimated over 48 million people sick with influenza, 950,000 hospitalizations, and 79,000 deaths in the 2017-18 season alone. The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu is to get your flu shot as soon as possible.”

Carmona said with the flu it’s best to just stay home.

“Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or medication,” Carmona said. “If you experience flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home until at least 24 hours after a fever breaks and avoid contact with others except to get medical care.

“If you are in a high-risk group or are very sick and worried about your illness, call your doctor,” he said. “Certain people are at high risk of serious flu-related complications including seniors 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions. If you are in a high risk group and develop flu symptoms, it is best to contact your doctor early in your illness and remind your provider about your high risk status for flu.

Carmona said: “People at high risk for complications should be evaluated as early as possible because benefit is greatest if antiviral treatment is started within two days of illness onset,” he said.

Prepare for flu season by getting a flu shot at one of several community clinics through Nov. 16.

Huntington Health Physicians’ Dr. Stuart Miller said there are some precautions to take.

Recognize the difference between the flu and a cold

“Flu and common colds are both respiratory illnesses, but caused by different viruses,” Miller said in a statement. “They can have some of the same symptoms and this makes it difficult to differentiate at times. Usually flu symptoms are more intense and come on suddenly.

“Colds usually present with a runny / stuffy nose,” he said. “Colds usually do not progress into more serious health conditions. Flu can have serious complications and progress into sinus and ear infections, pneumonia, and other infections that may even need hospitalization. Flu symptoms typically include feverishness, cough, sore throat, muscle / body aches, headache, fatigue, and the runny / stuffy nose.

In addition to flu shots, is there anything else the Health Department recommends?

“Everyone six months and older should get vaccinated to protect against illness, missed school and work, and even hospitalization,” Carmona said. “Even healthy children and adults can get very sick from influenza viruses. High-risk groups more susceptible to severe influenza complications include seniors 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions such as asthma and diabetes. Additional steps to protect against the flu include washing your hands with soap and water frequently throughout the day and avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes to prevent the spread of germs.”

Avoid Problems by Avoiding the Flu

Huntington Hospital’s Dr. Brandon Lew said it’s important to avoid people who seem like they may be sick. In a report on Pasadena Media he gave some good tips.

“Get plenty of rest and be well-hydrated,” he said. “Try to avoid being exposed to potentially sick individuals will help protect you from getting the flu.

“Areas that have a lot of germs could be door knobs, bathrooms, common places where people can touch things then you touch them, then you touch your eyes, nose, mouth and that’s how the virus can spread.

“In addition just being around people who are coughing, sneezing, then you can inhale it too,” he said. “They say the virus can be caught up to six feet away if someone is sneezing. Be careful if you are sneezing or coughing cover your mouth with your elbow or tissue and wash your hands too.”

Lew said that the more people who get a flu shot, the better.

“The more people who become vaccinated for the flu it helps their entire community,” Lew said.

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