Health & Medicine

SLO County woman dies from flu complications, as season gets worse

Do your part to stop the spread of flu at home

What actions—apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine—can you take to help slow the spread of illnesses like the flu?
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What actions—apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine—can you take to help slow the spread of illnesses like the flu?

San Luis Obispo County’s first flu-related death of the season was reported Wednesday by public health officials, who remind residents to protect themselves as local confirmed cases of influenza increase.

A SLO County woman over the age of 60 died from complications from the flu, according to the county health department. Her identity was not released. County health officials said she had several underlying conditions that make people more vulnerable to severe complications from the flu.

As of late December, 42 people had died from the flu statewide since Sept. 30, and hospitalizations due to flu are above expected levels, according to the state health department.

“This is a sad reminder that flu can be very serious,” Dr. Penny Borenstein, county health officer, said in a news release. “We extend our sincere sympathy to this patient’s family and ask everyone to help play a part in reducing the spread of flu in our county. We can all take steps to protect ourselves and our most vulnerable neighbors.”

The flu is circulating throughout California, causing a high risk of the threat of complications for pregnant women, children under 5, adults 65 and older, and people with chronic conditions.

Most cases of flu confirmed in the county this winter have been the same strain of H1N1 that was predominant in 2009, the release said. The strain is covered by the flu vaccine.

Health officials say you can protect yourself. Here’s how:

Wash your hands.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Avoid contact with people who are sick. A person is no longer contagious after at least seven days past the start date of their illness and 24 hours with no fever.

Get the flu shot from your health care provider, at local pharmacies or at Public Health Department clinics — even if you’ve already had the flu. The vaccine protects against multiple strains.

If you get the flu:

Stay home. Rest, keep hydrated and take temperature-reducing medicines like Tylenol or ibuprofen as needed.

Keep it to yourself by washing your hands, covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue and avoiding contact with other people, especially those who are at risk for serious compilations.

Look out for signs that it may be more serious and go to the emergency room if you have difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, chest pain or severe abdominal pain, confusion, sudden dizziness or severe vomiting.

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Monica Vaughan reports on Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo County, oil and wildlife at The Tribune. She previously covered crime and justice in the Sacramento Valley, is a graduate of the University of Oregon journalism school and is a sixth-generation Californian. Have an idea for a story? Email: