Posted: 1:29 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014

Woman's H1N1 death confirms resurgence of flu strain

Flu season
Flu season

By Jana Katsuyama

SAN JOSE, Calif. —

Santa Clara County Health Department officials announced Friday that the first flu death of the season was a confirmed case of the H1N1 strain. Health officials say the concern is that they are seeing a resurgence of H1N1, the flu strain reponsible for the 2009 pandemic that swept across the United States.

"It's been circulating since. This year, it's the predominant strain," said Dr. Sara Cody, a Santa Clara County health officer.

In Santa Clara County, a 41-year-old woman died on December 23rd and health officials say the medical examiner did a post-morten test to identify the H1N1 flu type.

"It died down for a while and then now you're hearing about it." said Donela Steiner of San Jose.

Flu is not unusual this time of year, but health officials warn that flu activity began accelerating in mid-December.

Statewide Friday, two other confirmed flu deaths from H1N1 included a 61-year-old woman in Sacramento County and a 28-year-old woman in Orange County.

The number of states with widespread flu jumped last week from 10 to 25 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control which tracks reported flu cases.

Dr. Cody says every year Influenza does cause deaths.        

"36,000 deaths every year across the country from flu is the estimate. Many of those deaths are people over 65," Dr. Cody said.

By law, hospitals are only required to report flu deaths when patients are under the age of 65. Dr. Cody says that is to help identify unsual trends. The H1N1 flu strain is of concern because it can impact younger patients.

"Young healthy adults are more likely to become sick from this than they would be from other flu strains," Dr. Cody said.

Health officials nationwide now are urging people to get flu shots and take precautions.

Dr. Cody recommends, "If you have flu-like symptoms and you're sick, don't go to school, don't go to work don't go to social occasions. Stop the spread to others."

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