Marilyn Ducote, 81, right, is examined by Norinda Kremicki, a nurse practitioner at the Healthcare Partners West Hills Clinic, after Ducote came in with a bad cough. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times / January 10, 2014)

Following an uptick in flu activity across the state, California Department of Public Health officials said Friday that influenza activity here was “widespread,” and urged Californians to obtain a flu immunization if they hadn’t done so already.

Statewide, seven adults under the age of 65 are confirmed to have died from influenza thus far this flu season; another 28 deaths are under investigation, according to state epidemiologist Dr. Gil Chavez. He said the state should be able to confirm whether most of those deaths were also flu-related within the next week.

Other flu measures such as numbers of influenza-like illnesses, hospitalizations and positive flu test results were also all on the rise, Chavez said, adding that flu activity seemed to be strengthening a little bit earlier than usual this year.

One of the seven deaths confirmed by the state was from Los Angeles County, which also released updated flu statistics Friday.

The county Department of Public Health noted that there had been “sharp increases in influenza activity” locally, with 575 illnesses confirmed thus far through testing -- 222 in just the last week. The county reports six deaths in all from influenza; as Sacramento investigates further, all could join the state count.

Among the predominant strains this year is the H1N1 swine flu that first appeared in 2009. This year’s flu vaccine is a “100% match” with the 2009 H1N1 and and the other strains detected thus far, Chavez said.

He urged all Californians over the age of 6 months to get immunized for the flu, if they hadn’t already.

“There is plenty of vaccine available, and everyone can benefit from it,” he said.


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