Health & Medicine

Worst of the flu season is still ahead and cases are on the rise, SLO County warns

San Luis Obispo County has seen an uptick in flu cases, county public health officials said in a statement urging the public to take precautions to guard their health.

“Across SLO County, we’re seeing more confirmed cases of the flu than usual, and more people are visiting the emergency room because of the flu,” according to a county statement.

However, county officials stressed that “In reality, every year is a bad flu year for the people who get sick.”

The Public Health Department said in a statement it does not track exact numbers of cases, and county officials did not respond to a Tribune request for further comment by deadline.

The news comes as Monterey County announced its first flu-related death of the season on Thursday; the county did not identify the deceased, but said the flu victim was an adult younger than 65.

Children under 5, adults over 65, pregnant women and people with health conditions like heart or lung disease are considered especially vulnerable to serious complications resulting from the flu, though “even young, healthy people can sometimes experience serious complications,” the county said.

Flu season usually begins in October or November, peaks between December and February and can run into May before tapering off.

While local healthcare providers have seen an increase in flu cases, “health officials believe the local flu season has not yet peaked,” county officials said.

People who suspect they are sick with the flu should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible while resting and staying hydrated, public health officials said.

“In most cases of the flu, it’s best to recover on your own at home,” according to a county statements.

A visit to the emergency room could lead to exposure from other flu patients or other contagious diseases.

However, public health officials said people sick with the flu should seek help if they develop difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, experience chest pain or severe abdominal pain, suffer sudden dizziness or experience “severe vomiting or vomiting that won’t stop.”

To avoid contracting the flu, public health officials recommend that people wash their hands regularly, avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth, avoid contact with people who are sick, and get a flu shot.

“While the flu shot offers most protection if you get it early in the season, it’s better now than never” and can result in a more mild illness if the flu is still contracted, officials said.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7934, @andrewsheeler

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