A 41-year-old woman who died of the H1N1 virus is the first flu-related death reported this season in Santa Clara County, officials announced Friday.
The woman died on Dec. 23, 2013.
Seven other cases of severe flu have been reported to date this flu season, with six confirmed to be H1N1, according to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. The other severe flu case was Flu B.
Santa Clara County is not alone. Marin County says 10 to 20 percent of people who have been tested for flu-like symptoms have tested positive for H1N1. Ten H1N1 cases have been reported there.
Contra Costa County is reporting at least six cases.
Seeing an overall spike in flu cases in California and across the country, officials are urging people to get their annual flu shots, the California Department of Public Health said earlier this week.
Counties across the state and the nation are reporting an increase in the number of cases, particularly of the H1N1 virus that caused a worldwide pandemic in 2009.
"What's unusual about it is that even young, healthy adults can get quite sick and even land in the hospital from H1N1," said Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody.
The county is sending out the message for everyone to get their flu shot if you haven't done so. This year's vaccine does protect against H1N1.
"A yearly flu vaccine is the most important step in preventing influenza," CDPH director Dr. Ron Chapman said. "It’s important to remember that unlike other vaccine preventable diseases, it is necessary to get a flu shot every year."
The CDPH reports that patients in many California counties, as well as other states, are critically ill with the sickness, including healthy young adults.
In addition to getting a vaccination, it is important to practice good health habits, including staying home when you’re sick, covering your coughs and sneezes, washing your hands with soap and water, eating a nutritious diet and getting enough sleep.
"It’s impossible to predict the severity of a flu season, but the best way to prevent spread of the flu is to get vaccinated," Chapman said. The CDPH says that a vaccine is especially important for women who are pregnant, as well as other people with are at high risk for severe influenza.