South Bay sees spike in 'widespread' California flu

New numbers show a spike in flu cases with officials deeming flu activity "widespread" across California. Santa Clara County health officials say this year's flu season is more severe than average and one reason is because of the type of flu strain going around.

San Jose locksmith technician Rich Acosta says he got the flu a week ago.

"When my fever went up to 103, I knew it was the flu," Acosta said. "I was cold, had chills and just felt dead," Acosta said.

It wasn't just him. He says his co-worker, who also had the flu shot, got it too.

"We both ended up having the flu the week before New Year’s," Acosta said.

Dr. George Han is the Assistant Health Officer for the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. Han says they've seen a sharp increase in flu cases since mid to late-December and expect we are in the peak of the flu right now.

"Flu season has come a little earlier this year and is a little more severe than normal," said Dr. Han. "That is typical though of AH3 years. That's the flu sub-type that's occurring this year."

According to the latest figures from the CA Department of Public Health, 17 people under the age of 65 have died from flu-related illness in California since October.

Santa Clara County reports four flu-related deaths and eight outbreaks at health care facilities, with five of those outbreaks occurring in just that last week or so. Restaurant manager Mario Landino says, from work to church, he's taking precautions.

"Don't shake hands, say 'Hi,'” said Landino. “At church, [use your] elbow, and so on. Try not getting in contact with a lot of people."

San Jose mother Elisabeth Galvez says her six-year-old son and four-year-old daughter still need to get their flu vaccine.

"I've been having to go take them. The pediatrician recommended it. It's something on my to-do list," said Galvez. "I definitely will be doing that."

Dr. Han says we won't know the effectiveness of this year's flu vaccine until CDC's official estimates come out in February.

"It's always possible that, if the vaccine is not as effective, soon you'll see more flu," said Dr. Han. "We still don't know if that's the case. We still recommend that getting the flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself."

Because of the severity of this flu season, Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz is restricting visitors to only those over the age of 15, with only one visitor per patient.

El Camino Hospital in both Mountain View and Los Gatos will start restricting visitors under 16-years-old next week. 

Santa Clara County Public Health Department expects more hospitals there to take similar measures soon.