Health officials report widespread flu activity across California

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported widespread flu activity across California with at least three deaths in the Bay Area. 

Dr. Nicholas Moss, a physician with the Alameda County Health Department said, "It's too early to know if it's a more severe season than past years but it's here." 

There have been at least 24 flu deaths across the state from the start of the season on Sep. 29 to Dec. 7, according to the California Department of Public Health

So far at least one person in Sonoma County and two people in Marin County have died from influenza-related causes.

"People don't recognize how sick influenza can make you and in fact, it can kill you," said the head of the Division of  Epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley Dr. Arthur Reingold. 

Doctors said this time of year, more flu cases will pop up, but peak activity will hit after the start of the New Year. 

Reingold said people should be wary of trying to diagnose themselves. 

"Because people talk about cold and the flu in one phrase, people have the sense that, 'Oh the flu is just like a bad cold,'" he said. "I think that's the problem." 

Some people think stuffiness or congestions are signs of the flu, but not always. Symptoms include high fever and strong body aches. 

Doctors say coughing and sneezing is the primary way the virus is transmitted. 

Reingold said young children and the elderly are most susceptible to the virus. 

"Much of the transmission of the flu virus takes place among school-age children," the doctor said. "To their younger siblings at home, to their parents, and to their grandparents. 

Health experts said getting vaccinated is the best defense and this year's dose should protect from the main strains of the flu.