PALM SPRINGS – A 30-year-old Coachella Valley man who died this week of influenza-related problems became the first person in Riverside County to die from the bug this flu season, public health officials said today.
The man, who tested positive for the H1N1 strain of influenza, died after being hospitalized. Public health officials are investigating whether he had other health issues that may have contributed to his death, said Jose Arballo Jr. of the Riverside County Department of Public Health.
Whether he got a flu vaccine was unknown, he said.
Arballo said flu rates, for the most part, were at expected levels for this time of year.
Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s public health officer, said the flu vaccine was the most effective protection against the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends annual vaccinations for those 6 months and older.
”Some people wrongly believe that it is too far into the flu season” to get a shot, Kaiser said. ”That is not the case. There is still time and the vaccine is readily available.”
To prevent the flu, public health officials recommend washing hands frequently, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and staying home if sick to prevent spreading the virus.