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10 people have died of the flu in SLO County

Matt Maurer, the epidemiologist for Coconino County, holds a vial of influenza vaccine at the county health department in Flagstaff, Ariz. The county, just like the rest of the state, has seen a spike in flu cases and it has overwhelmed some providers.
Matt Maurer, the epidemiologist for Coconino County, holds a vial of influenza vaccine at the county health department in Flagstaff, Ariz. The county, just like the rest of the state, has seen a spike in flu cases and it has overwhelmed some providers. AP

Ten people have died of flu-related deaths in San Luis Obispo County since Dec. 10, according to Ann McDowell, an epidemiologist with the SLO County Public Health Department.

On Monday, the department said that one person — a 56-year-old woman — had died of the flu in the county. The woman had at least one underlying risk factor that predisposed her to severe complications, according to a news release.

Healthcare providers are required to report cases of the flu in patients hospitalized in the intensive care unit or deaths associated with the flu among people younger than 65.

However, since the county confirmed its first flu death, authorities have performed a review of death certificates that goes back to Dec. 10, McDowell said. The review included people over the age of 65, McDowell said.

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

Of those deaths, two people under 65 died from the infection. The other patients were all over 65.

Officials made the decision to review the deaths “because this flu season is so impactful,” McDowell said, and officials are trying to monitor the situation.

“The impact of flu is very serious this year, across the nation and here in SLO County,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, county health officer, in a news release about the first confirmed death.

This means local emergency medical services — including emergency rooms and ambulances — have been stretched to near capacity over the past week. Health officials are continuing to urge otherwise healthy people with routine cases of flu to rest and recover at home so that emergency services are available for people with life-threatening complications.

In Santa Barbara County, six people have died in the past two weeks, according to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department. All of them were over the age of 65.

Gabby Ferreira: 805-781-7858, @Its_GabbyF

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