Monterey County

Flu strain affecting young, healthy adults

Health officials say people younger than 65 at risk from flu strain

SALINAS, Calif. - The two confirmed deaths in Monterey County due to the flu were people under the age of 65 which is unusual.

"The flu can cause serious illness among people who consider themselves young and healthy. It's not too late to get the flu," said Monterey County Health Officer Dr. Edward Moreno.

Moreno said this flu season has momentum. At this time last year, there were zero admissions to intensive care units and zero deaths caused by the flu in Monterey County.

Already this year there are two deaths and six people in the ICU because of the flu. And there's still four months left in the flu season.

"I don't know if we have reached our peak yet, but I do know that we are in January and we are still seeing an increase rate of influenza activity," said Moreno.

You've heard it before, but Moreno said get the flu shot. Get plenty of rest, wash your hands, exercise and stay away from sick people.

"If you do get sick, the best recommendation I can give is to stay home, don't go to school, or don't send your children to school and don't go to work," said Moreno.

What's different this season is the strain. Dr. Moreno said the H1N1 strain spreading in the county is the same one that caused the worldwide pandemic in 2009.

"This H1N1 strain of a virus is also attacking and causing serious illness among people that are younger than 65," said Moreno.

Typically those older than 65 or younger than six months are more at risk, but Moreno said this strain is powerful.