Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Is It Flu Season In California

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How Covid Impacted Immunity

California doctor explains when state’s flu season could peak

Another factor experts are still trying to figure out is whether COVID-19 alters the bodys immune system to make it more susceptible to other illnesses like influenza. UC San Diegos Smith said it might.

My thought is that it increases the activation of cells to be able to get infected for the flu, he said. It increases the susceptibility to the flu.

Overall, the lack of widespread flu across the community in 2020 and 2021 could also make the broader population more susceptible now that our socializing has increased, he said.

You can think of the community as a gas tank full of immune responses, and every year when flu season hits, it infects a whole bunch of people and if they live, they have lots of immune gas in the tank for our community, Smith said. So it fills it up every flu season and it wanes over the year when flu is not circulating. And then when the flu hits again, it fills the tank back up.

But, he said, for the past two years, the tank has drained down to empty because so few people got the flu.

So therefore, when flu hit this year and there was more social interaction and less masking that left more of our community open for infection and it really let it spread very quickly, Smith said.

But Fielding-Miller said what might be true for a community isnt true for an individual. Just because you didnt get sick for a couple of years doesnt mean your immune system is weaker. Its not like a muscle that got flabby without exercise.

Its Gathering Speed Already About A Month Early

Predicting what influenza activity might look like in a particular year can be tricky, but doctors are bracing for a very substantial flu season, said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

Im concerned that we will have a very substantial influenza season coming up this year, very different from our two previous seasons, he said.

Signs of increased flu activity were first seen in the Southern Hemisphere this summer, and as more people in the Northern Hemisphere relax Covid-19 restrictions and return to socializing without masks and in large crowds, cases of flu are being reported. The widespread number of cases so early in the flu season is unusual.

Here we are in the middle of October not the middle of November were already seeing scattered influenza cases, even hospitalized influenza cases, around the country, Schaffner, whose medical center at Vanderbilt University is part of a surveillance network that tracks hospitalized flu cases.

So we know that this virus is now spreading out in the community already. Its gathering speed already. It looks to me to be about a month early, Schaffner said.

US health officials are encouraging people to get their flu shots as soon as possible, said Adriane Casalotti, chief of government and public affairs for the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

What Do I Do If I Get The Flu

Most people can fight the flu at home. The keys are getting plenty of rest and staying hydrated. Within a week or two, you should be feeling better.

That said, if youre feeling worse after a week or if you have a history of respiratory problems, we may recommend treatment. Because the flu is a viral condition, it sometimes requires treatment with antiviral medication.

Influenza is a common condition that usually runs rampant each winter. Taking steps to stay healthy, including washing your hands frequently and avoiding contact with people who have symptoms, goes a long way in helping you safely navigate flu season.

To put a layer of protection in place to help prevent illness and lessen the severity if you do get sick, schedule your flu shot today by at either SmartClinic Urgent Care location. Or, if its easier for you, just stop in at either location as an urgent care center, we offer walk-in flu shots.

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Facts To Know About The Flu Shot

With the return of flu season, its time to take steps to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy. The good news is you can help avoid serious illness and make this flu season easier on yourself and the people around you, just by getting a flu shot. Its one of the most important things you can do to protect against infection and keep your immune system healthyand strong.

Uptick In Flu Cases Prompts San Diego County Hospitals To Erect Overflow Tents To Ease Er Burden

Yes, the flu season is brutal, but it

Healthcare professionals are unsure if the flu season is peaking early or will be sustained through the winter.

So far, Californias flu hot spot has been in the southeastern corner, covering San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial counties, state data show.

In a recent communication, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health wrote that healthcare providers must prepare for the possibility of a severe influenza season this fall and winter.

All patients especially those aged 65 years and older should be urged at every healthcare encounter to get both their influenza vaccine and their updated fall COVID-19 booster as soon as possible, the message continued.

Thirteen flu deaths were reported in California from the start of October through Nov. 5, with eight of them among seniors.

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High Risk For Developing Flu

The below health and age factors are known to increase a person’s risk of getting serious complications from flu:

  • Children younger than five, but especially children younger than two years old
  • Adults 65 years of age and older
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who have pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, and diabetes

Para obtener más información sobre las personas de alto riesgo y la gripe, consulte Personas con mayor riesgo de presentar complicaciones a causa de la influenza .

Outpatient Respiratory Illness Surveillance

The U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network monitors outpatient visits for respiratory illness referred to as influenza-like illness , not laboratory-confirmed influenza, and will therefore capture respiratory illness visits due to infection with any pathogen that can present with similar symptoms, including influenza, SARS-CoV-2, and RSV. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, health care-seeking behaviors have changed, and people may be accessing the health care system in alternative settings not captured as a part of ILINet or at a different point in their illness than they might have before the pandemic. Therefore, it is important to evaluate syndromic surveillance data, including that from ILINet, in the context of other sources of surveillance data to obtain a complete and accurate picture of influenza, SARS-CoV-2, and other respiratory virus activity. CDC is tracking the COVID-19 pandemic in a weekly publication called COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review. Information about other respiratory virus activity can be found on CDCs National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System website.

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Southern California Braces For Difficult Flu Season As Cases Rise After Covid Lull

Flu is being detected at increased levels for this time of year in Southern California, a trend that officials say could foreshadow a difficult season following a pandemic-induced lull.

At this point, overall influenza activity in California remains low, according to the state Department of Public Health. But given that the flu typically begins ramping up nationally in late November or December, above-normal levels now could lead to further challenges later.

The current levels of flu activity are “much higher” compared to pre-pandemic years, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in a bulletin to healthcare providers. “In previous years, an early start to the season was associated with a season with substantially higher influenza activity.”

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer put it bluntly: “Flu is definitely circulating here in L.A. County.”

“I think, as a matter of fact, we have a higher percentage of specimens testing positive for flu at this point in the year than we usually have in a normal influenza season,” she said Thursday.

The county is not unique in this regard. As of last week, “early increases in seasonal influenza activity have been reported in most of the United States, with the Southeast and south-central areas of the country reporting the highest levels of activity,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Take Action To Prevent The Flu

27 Dead In Worst Flu Season To Hit California In A Decade
  • Get a flu vaccine and get it early!
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Para obtener más información sobre hábitos saludables para ayudar a protegerse contra la gripe, consulte Hábitos saludables para protegerse de la influenza .

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Masking Up Testing Sanitizing: Staying Safe This Thanksgiving With Covid

This years holiday happenings risk attracting some unwelcome guests, as respiratory viruses and the coronavirus could find fertile ground to spread, especially in crowded indoor settings.

There were not enough flu cases during the 2020-21 flu season in the United States and globally for the CDC to estimate how many people avoided flu hospitalizations and deaths because they were vaccinated.

But during the 2019-20 flu season, when more data were available, the agency estimated 38 million people in the United States became ill. This led to an estimated 400,000 people being hospitalized and 22,000 people dying from the illness. During the same season, flu vaccines prevented an estimated 7.5 million flu cases. The vaccines also prevented an estimated 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations and 6,300 deaths.

Historically, it has been difficult to get people vaccinated for the flu nationwide, and Los Angeles County is no different, said county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

She said this season will be important as influenza cases are expected to rise with the colder months ahead, so public health officials continue to urge people to get their COVID-19 vaccines and flu shots.

Important Facts About The Flu Shot

In the worst cases, the flu can put your life at risk. Knowing these facts about the flu and the flu shot can help save your life, or the life of someone you love.

1. Hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received the flu shotin the last 50 years.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, research has also shown the flu vaccines are safe.

2. The flu shot can help reduce the effects of the flu,even if you or a loved one catches it.

3. The flu shotcant give you the flubecause it doesnt have any active flu virus in it.

4. You need to get this years flu shot for the best protection,since the flu virus changes every year.

5. By getting vaccinated, you also help protect the people around you,including people who are more vulnerable to the flu, like small children and people with compromised immune systems.

If you have more questions about the flu shot, ask your doctor.

Were also here to help you stay safe from other viruses like COVID-19 this flu season. Check our website for information on the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots.

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Risk Groups For Influenza

The people at high risk of influenza-related complications or hospitalization include:

  • people who are pregnant
  • neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions
  • children up to 18 years of age undergoing treatment for long periods with acetylsalicylic acid
  • residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities
  • adults 65 years of age and older
  • all children younger than 60 months of age
  • people who have reduced access to health care, such as vulnerable populations like those experiencing homelessness or those with disabilities
  • people who are at an increased risk of illness because of living conditions, such as those:
  • living in shelters who experience overcrowding
  • who have limited access to facilities for personal hygiene
  • persons with disabilities who might have limited capacity to understand or perform personal hygiene practices
  • The following statement elaborates on persons at high risk of influenza-related complications:

    Additionally, to reduce the risk of severe illness that could potentially arise from co-infection with SARS-CoV-2 and influenza, it is particularly recommended that the following groups also receive the influenza vaccine this season:

    • people at high risk of severe COVID-19 related illness
    • people capable of transmitting influenza to those at high risk of severe illness related to COVID-19

    For additional advice regarding the administration of seasonal influenza vaccine in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, refer to:

    And Before You Go Some Good News

    Flu season hits some big states hard

    In early December, The Redding Record Searchlight wrote about a surprising musical talent a masterful cellist who lives on the streets.

    Alissa Johnson, 33, has been playing cello since she was 11 and was described as a musical genius. Unable to afford a new instrument outright, she bought a custom-made cello for $7,300 on credit earlier this year.

    After the newspaper article published, Johnson got word that an anonymous reader wanted to pay off her cello. She still owed $6,649.

    I wish I could give them a hug, like 1,000 hugs or maybe how about like 6,600 hugs, Johnson told The Redding Record Searchlight.

    Thanks for reading. Ill be back tomorrow. Soumya

    P.S. Heres todays Mini Crossword, and a clue: Bit of improv practice .

    Jack Kramer and Mariel Wamsley contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at .

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    Who Should Get An Influenza Vaccine

    Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a yearly influenza vaccination with rare exception.

    Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk of serious illness from influenza and those able to transmit or spread influenza to those at high risk. This fall and winter, everyone in British Columbia who is six months of age or older can get the influenza vaccine free of charge.

    Pharmacists can immunize people 4 years of age and older with injectable vaccines and 2 years and older with nasal spray influenza vaccine.

    Protect Yourself And Your Family This Season

    The Alameda County Public Health Department, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older.

    Getting the flu vaccine:

  • reduces illness and transmission in our community
  • reduces clinic visits and hospitalization
  • prevents illnesses that look like COVID-19
  • The 2022-23 flu season is expected to coincide with continued circulation of the virus that causes COVID-19. The flu vaccine is important every year, but this season its critical!

    All forms of the vaccine are available this year:

    • Prefilled syringes
    • Multi dose vials (across the different brands

    The nasal spray vaccine is available during the 2022-23 influenza season but may be harder to find because of a limited supply.

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    Stop Touching Your Face It Could Help You Stay Healthy This Holiday

    Looking for an easy way to reduce your risk of catching a viral illness? Try to stop touching your face.

    In addition to wearing a mask, health experts say one of the easiest ways to reduce your risk of catching the flu or other viral illnesses is to avoid touching your face.

    The CDC notes that people can be infected with flu and RSV by touching contaminated surfaces, where some viruses can survive for days, and then their face.

    The one point I want to reemphasize is avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, Dr. Ralph Gonzales, a UC San Francisco associate dean, said at a recent campus town hall. Very good studies have shown that if we can double down our efforts to be vigilant about this, that will increase our chances of staying flu-free.

    Still, this simple-sounding advice may be easier said than done. Touching your face can be a spontaneous or even subconscious act that some research indicates can help us deal with anxiety and discomfort, or be related to negative or dissatisfactory feelings.

    And its something that happens a lot. A study from 2015 caught medical students in class touching their faces 23 times per hour on average.

    Here are some tips on how to train yourself to avoid touching your face.

    Regular hand-washing is also an important step to help thwart viral spread, officials say. When soap and water arent available, hand sanitizer can be used as a substitute.

    Flu Could Be Far Worse In La This Season Heres Why

    CDC reports high flu activity in California

    Influenza has been largely dormant the past two seasons, possibly due to the infection-prevention protocols put in place to ward off the coronavirus.

    This triple threat has a lot of potential to cause there to be significant circulating illness and to strain our healthcare system both in terms of the number of beds that are available and the number of healthcare workers that are impacted by illness, which lowers the hospitals capacity to take care of patients, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a recent briefing.

    The flu positivity rate in L.A. County has reached 25%, a level not seen at this time of year in the last four years. Clearly, were … off the charts, Ferrer said.

    We already are seeing many individuals hospitalized for flu-related illness and complications. So please, we urge people to not just think of this as just the flu. Its not too late to get your seasonal flu shot, she added.

    California has recorded at least 36 flu-related deaths since the start of October, based on death certificate data. That figure is probably an undercount.

    The positivity rate for RSV also remains elevated around 15%, higher than in any of the four prior cold-and-flu years, which run October through September.

    The current percent positivity, even while its dropped, still surpasses the highest percent positivity values seen for our last five seasons, Ferrer said. So, still an alarming number of people who are testing positive for RSV.

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