"Flu has the potential to cause serious illness and even death," CDPH Director Dr. Mark Horton said in a prepared statement. "But there is something people can do about it. I urge all Californians to get a flu shot and take other preventive measures to reduce exposure to influenza."
Flu activity levels are within the expected range for this time of the year, health officials said. Current flu activity in California is "regional," which is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as having "outbreaks of influenza or increases in influenza-like illness and recent laboratory confirmed influenza in at least two but less than half the regions of the state."
Flu activity typically increases the first three months of each year. Every year, more than 225,000 people are hospitalized and more than 35,000 die in the United States due to the flu and its complications.
This year, CDPH is recommending flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older. Vaccine is plentiful and available throughout the state, the state said. To stop the spread of flu and other respiratory illnesses, health officials said people should:
- Stay home when sick. Limiting contact limits the spread of disease.
- Cover your cough or sneeze. By using your elbow or a tissue and properly disposing of the used tissue, a person reduces the spread of disease.
- Wash hands thoroughly. Using soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and avoiding contact with your eyes, nose and mouth, limits disease.
- Stay healthy. Everyone benefits from eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, not smoking, and getting adequate rest and exercise.