Dozens Dead in Widespread Flu Outbreak in CA

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has announced that flu activity in California is widespread and at levels usually seen at the peak of the influenza season. Health officials are encouraging Californians to get vaccinated.

For the week ending Dec. 30, 2017, which was the most recent report available as of Jan. 9, there had been 27 flu-associated deaths in persons under 65 years of age reported to CDPH. But because only influenza deaths in persons less than 65 years are reported to CDPH, the total number of deaths due to influenza is higher, according to the agency.

The CDC urges workers to stay home and avoid contact with other people, except to get medical care.

If, however, you have symptoms of flu and are in a high risk group, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your health care provider (doctor, physician assistant, etc.).

You might need antiviral medication to treat flu:

  • Antiviral drugs can treat flu illness
  • Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter
  • Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They also can prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia
  • It’s very important that antiviral drugs be used early to treat people who are very sick with the flu (for example, people who are in the hospital) and people who are sick with the flu and have a greater chance of getting serious flu complications, either because of their age or because they have a high risk medical condition. Other people also may be treated with antiviral drugs by their doctor this season. Most otherwise-healthy people who get the flu, however, do not need to be treated with antiviral drugs.

Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatments when they are started within 2 days of getting sick. However, starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high-risk health condition or is very sick from the flu (for example, hospitalized patients). Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking these drugs.

Impacts of flu on business include:

  • Up to 20% of working adults will get the flu each year
  • Each employee who gets the flu will average 5 days out of work
  • Absenteeism results in an interruption of service and/or loss of productivity and quality assurance

The CDC encourages businesses to host annual on-site flu vaccination clinics.  Employers who host clinics realize many of these benefits:

  • Minimized absenteeism
  • Avoided productivity losses and related lost revenue/profit
  • Avoided costs associated with temporarily replacing workers
  • Reduced paid sick time
  • Reduced insurance paid doctors appointments
  • Provided a convenient and valuable benefit to employees
  • Curtailed flu epidemics in their business

CDPH closely tracks influenza and posts updated information on the CDPH Influenza website at the end of the work week.