By Bay City News Service and Patch Staff — A second person in Santa Clara County has died as the result of the flu, health officials reported, along with a total of eight others from throughout the Bay Area.
Victims range in age from a 23-year-old Sonoma County resident to three people under age 65. According to the CDC, this version of the H1N1 virus is "disproportionately affecting younger and middle-age people," several of them who previously were healthy.
Also on Thursday, it was reported that a woman in her 40s in San Mateo County died, and that an Alameda County resident died in December. Two recent deaths in Marin County have been linked to the flu and another two in Santa Cruz County.
A 48-year-old Contra Costa woman's death was also flu-related. The Santa Clara victims were a 41-year-old woman and a 61-year-old man.
The predominant influenza virus nationally in the 2013-14 flu season is A H1N1, the same virus that caused the 2009-10 H1N1 pandemic, according to the Marin County Public Health Department.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said the H1N1 virus continues to circulate widely, and illnesses are disproportionately affecting young and middle-age adults.
California Influenza Report Highlights (as of Dec. 28)
• Outpatient influenza-like illness increased in Week 52 (3.4%) compared to Week 51 (2.6%) (of 2013).
• Of 1,945 specimens tested during Week 52,
442 (22.7%) were positive for influenza virus; of these 23 (5.2%) were influenza B and 419 (94.8%) were influenza A
• 3 (0.7%) were subtyped as seasonal A (H3)
• 72 (17.2%) were subtyped as 2009 A (H1)
• 344 (82.1%) were not subtyped.
Public health officials are urging residents to get a flu shot if they haven't already. (Click here to find a flu shot provider nearest you.) This year's vaccine protects against H1N1 and other influenza strains.
Preventive measures include covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, using tissues and discarding them in a trash receptacle, scrubbing hands often with soap and water, using alcohol-based hand cleaners, and staying home from work or school if you have flu-like symptoms.