A pregnant woman and her unborn baby died in Los Angeles County after succumbing to influenza-related symptoms in what has been a severe flu season in California.
Health officials urged county residents to get a seasonal flu vaccine following the South Bay woman’s death.
"Most individuals who get sick are able to treat themselves at home with over-the-counter medications, drinking plenty of fluids, resting and staying home from work or school," Jonathon Fielding, director of public health for Los Angeles County, said in a statement Thursday. "Others may develop complications such as pneumonia."
That was the case of the mother-to-be. Fielding said she developed inflammation of the lungs caused by an infection, the clinical definition of pneumonia.
Further details about the woman, including her age and how far along she was in her pregnancy, were not released because of patient privacy protection. Fielding said he was not aware of any other complicating health factors for the woman, besides her pregnancy.
"It is critical that all pregnant and postpartum women get vaccinated to protect themselves against the flu," Fielding said. "We recommend that everyone, six months of age or older, receive either the influenza shot or the nasal spray vaccine."
Fielding also said practicing basic hygience, such as washing your hands and covering coughs and sneezes helps in preventing the spread of the flu and other respiratory diseases.
A total of 52 children, men and women have died due to influenza-related illnesses in Los Angeles County this year.
Doctors recommended that pregnant women suffering from a flu-like illness should start antiviral medication even before testing is confirmed. Symptoms include fever, cough, headache and muscle pain within the first three to five days of illness.
More than 200 people have died in California during this flu season, and officials said the flu will remain widespread through at least March.