Flu Epidemic Misses California For Now

California is one of the few states reporting only regional activity but doctors warn that won’t last long.

By Marianne Favro
|  Friday, Jan 11, 2013  |  Updated 6:56 AM PDT
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According to the Centers for Disease Control, 40 states are experiencing widespread flu activity. California is one of the few states reporting only regional activity but doctors warn that won’t last long. NBC Bay Area's Marianne Favro reports.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 40 states are experiencing widespread flu activity. California is one of the few states reporting only regional activity but doctors warn that won’t last long. NBC Bay Area's Marianne Favro reports.

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Flu has killed more than a hundred people in the U.S. so far this season, 18 of them children, including six year old Tahlila Johnson of Texas.

"Flu season has come early and rather fiercely and it is rather virulent so we are definitely looking at a severe influenza season” said Dr. William Schaffner, an Infectious Disease expert.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 40 states are experiencing widespread flu activity.

California is one of the few states reporting only regional activity but doctors warn that won’t last long.

“If people don’t get their vaccines here after they see how bad it is on the East Coast we could end up seeing patients in tents in the parking lot like we are seeing in other cities” said pediatrician Dr. Christine Halaburka with Silicon Valley Pediatricians.

She has tested a few patients for flu using rapid tests but says so far she has not had any confirmed cases. Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Northern California are seeing an increase in patients coming into emergency rooms with flu-like symptoms.

They have also seen a spike in patients calling in complaining of aches and fever.

In California four people have died from flu this season , all under the age of 65.

Doctors say frequent hand washing is key to protecting yourself and they recommend you sing the Happy Birthday song twice while scrubbing your hands to make sure you do a thorough job of cleansing.

“Just remember influenza is a long lasting virus. When it is on door handles or phones it can stay alive for up to eight hours on those surfaces said Halaburka.

She also strongly encourages people to get a flu shot.

“It is not too late, you can still get protection and there is plenty of vaccine available” said Halaburka.

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