Flu cases are surging throughout Riverside County, prompting public health officials to urge residents to take precautions aimed at prevention.
“It’s a rough season, and there’s no indication it’s slowing down,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, county public health officer, said.
According to Barbara Cole, director of disease control of Riverside University Health System, about 1,000 residents tested positive in December for influenza at urgent care and county public health clinics, as well as during doctor visits – a sizable documented number this early into flu season.
Cole said there have been four flu-related deaths, one involving a child under 5 years old.
Seventeen residents over 65 had to be hospitalized because of compromised immune systems and other factors, she said.
Health officials pointed out that the harsher “B” strain of flu is prevalent – a change from the past, when the cyclical “A” strain affected the widest number of patients in the first months of flu season, which starts in early fall and ends in April or May.
According to Cole, frequent hand-washing and “social distancing” are sure methods to avoid contracting the flu, which is passed through droplets from a sick person’s cough or sneeze.
Influenza is a respiratory illness marked by fever, coughing, sore throat, fatigue, head and body aches. Vomiting and diarrhea are also known to occur. Officials said drinking plenty of fluids, getting plenty of rest and taking over-the-counter products like Tylenol are helpful in recovery, which can take a few days to several weeks, depending on the patient.