The first two flu-related deaths among residents of Fresno County under the age of 65 this season were reported on Friday.
The Department of Public Health of Fresno County confirmed that one man (62) and one woman (59) the cause of death were two deaths from the flu, although it was not clear to the Ministry of Health officials after her death. The health department received no reports on whether the man and the woman were vaccinated.
Health officials said recent deaths would increase the death toll in Fresno to six since October 2018. Four were over 65 years old "Influenza deaths among people under 65 are worrisome for health officials."
"If deaths occur that are less than 65 years old, it shows us that the virus is getting stronger," said Sara Goldgraben, Public Health Officer. She said that those with asthma, diabetes or other underlying conditions are at greater risk if they get the flu.
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The department asks the public to prevent the flu from spreading in the county. Health Advisor Leticia Berber said the flu vaccine could be the strongest shield, especially among those who do not yet have flu. She also suggested that people should wash their hands regularly, avoid sharing water bottles, eat healthily, and move well.
"You get the flu vaccine not only to protect yourself, but also to protect vulnerable people," said Berber. Anyone older than six months can start the flu shot.
42 people have died of influenza in California since October 2018, according to the Los Angeles Times. Half of the nationwide deaths in this flu season, which begins in October and usually lasts until May, was in people under the age of 65.
This year's flu has proven to be weaker than last year, when life was claimed to be an estimated 80,000 Americans, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Berber said last year's high mortality rate may be due to the flu season, which started earlier and ended later.