Flu Season Woes: Powerful Strain Of influenza B surging In SoCal; At Least 70 Deaths Reported Statewide

Flu vaccinations make their way to U.S. Army in Europe- Everystockphoto: Photographer - USACE Europe District
Flu vaccinations make their way to U.S. Army in Europe- Photographer - USACE Europe District

LOS ANGELES – Sick patients are flooding doctor’s offices as cases of the flu surge across Southern California.

This year, a particularly potent B strain of the virus seems to be causing many of the illnesses.

In Los Angeles County, health officials are seeing an increase in influenza activity, with at least 70 flu-related deaths reported in the state so far this season.

In an advisory on Friday, the L.A. County Department of Public Health said that it’s not too late to get a flu shot for the season, which started in late September.

Simultaneously, influenza A virus also appears to be increasing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been about 9.7 million flu cases across the United States so far this season, with 87,000 hospitalizations and 4,800 deaths.

Statewide, 70 flu-related deaths were recorded by the California Department of Public Health between Sept. 29, 2019, and Jan. 4, 2020—higher than the 52 fatalities reported by this time last year.

A total of 618 flu-related deaths were recorded in California in the 2018-2019 season.

However, at this same time during the 2017-2018 season, 207 deaths were blamed on influenza, according to state officials.

The CDC says it is seeing elevated levels of outpatient flu cases but that hospitalization rates and deaths related to pneumonia and influenza remain relatively low.

The early dominance of the B-strain flu virus seems to hit children the hardest, with 32 pediatric deaths so far this season – the most this early in the season since the CDC started keeping track 16 years ago.

For more information please check out the CDC’s website.