Flu claims eighth victim in Kern County

Despite deaths, health officials say it the flu is not an epidemic.
KERN COUNTY, CA - An eighth person has now died from the flu in Kern County.

Health officials say they're continuing to monitor flu cases, but stop short of calling it an outbreak. 

Health officials say the flu is a respiratory illness with a fever, and often times patients are dying from pneumonia or heart or liver failure brought on by the flu. Your previous health condition can determine how well you handle the flu.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website, obesity may play a factor in how sick you can become from the flu.

At the state level, health officials report obese people are doing poorer than the rest of the population and have a harder time fighting off the flu.

The CDC classifies a person as obese if they have a body mass index over 40.

The health department is urging the public to get vaccinated. But if you suspect you already have the flu, officials say anti-viral drugs are effective.

"Persons are having good success with responding to anti-virals. So if they're prescribed early, then persons may have a much shorter course and a much less severe course of influenza than compared to if they don't get proper treatment as early as possible," said Dr. Claudia Jonah.

Currently, the state and county report having enough supplies of both the flu vaccine and anti-viral medications.

County health officials say the flu happens every year and it's not unusual for thousands to get sick, but they're concerned with the number of hospitalizations this year.

It is up to the state to declare an epidemic, but according to the California Public Health website, flu cases are well below the epidemic classification.
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