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Mother Lode Health Officer Reports Influenza Fatality

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Sonora, CA – A local influenza death has health officials warning residents to take the flu season seriously.

A woman in her sixties died on Friday according to Tuolumne County Health Officer Dr. Bob Bernstein. He comments, “Our hearts and sympathies go out to the victim’s family…we are saddened by the tragic loss of such a young member of our community.”

The doctor calls the woman’s passing a sad reminder that folks need to take extra precautions towards protecting ourselves, our families and those who are patients.

Bernstein recommends for their own sake and public health safety, residents should get the seasonal Influenza vaccination and practice good hand and respiratory hygiene through frequent hand washing, regular use of hand sanitizers, covering coughs and sneezes with tissues or the crook of your arm (aka “vampire sneeze”), and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. He adds to stay home if you are sick and maintain a two-week supply of food and water at home in the event of it.

In California, flu season usually begins to intensify in late November or December. Since it takes a couple of weeks after vaccination for the body to build immunity, if you have not already done so, the time is still ripe to get your influenza shot.

Infectious Without Feeling ‘Sick’

Calling it the best line of defense, Dr. Bernstein maintains, “Vaccination will help you stay healthy for work or school, avoid visits to the doctor or hospitalization, and protect others from coming down with the flu — a person with the flu may be contagious and infect others before they even feel sick.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data from the 2017– 2018 season, which indicated that flu immunizations across the nation prevented an estimated seven million illnesses and 8,000 deaths.

The vaccines can be administered as a shot or nasal spray. While there are many vaccine options to choose from and health care professionals can help you decide which one is best for you, officials stress that the most important thing is for everyone six months of age and older to get an annual one. The main reasons are because the vaccine changes each year to match changes in circulating viruses and an annual vaccination boosts immunity.

While anyone can get the flu, pregnant women, children under five, adults 65 years of age and older, and people with chronic conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and asthma are particularly at risk for related complications.

Common symptoms, which typically develop within a few days of exposure, include fever or feeling feverish, a cough and/or sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, chills, fatigue, and body aches. Children may also have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

Tuolumne County Public Health Department offers flu shots, as described here. For a list of local providers and pharmacies that provide them, click here.

For more information on the flu, click here.

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