Flu Considered Epidemic This Year

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The flu has killed twenty one Sacramento County residents this year, with over a month remaining until the end of flu season.

These deaths were predominately caused by H1N1, a strain of influenza A.

“What is different with H1N1, compared to the other strains, is that we are seeing severe disease in young and healthy people,” Sacramento County Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye said.

Noelle Warren said she got the flu after Christmas, and it lasted for two weeks.

“Body aches, runny nose, little bit of a fever, stomach ache. The whole nine yards,” said Warren.

She says she knows all the regular precautions, like washing her hands, covering her mouth, and isolating her illness. That didn’t stop her from hopping on a party bus.

“It’s close quarters, a lot of people. I just don’t think I’ll get it again. So I’m not that scared,” said Warren.

“It’s all a matter of risk reduction. Nothing guarantees you’re not going to get infected,” said Dr. Dean Blumberg with UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Blumberg says hand sanitizer is a good line of defense against contracting the flu from hand to hand contact.

In some parts of the state, even churches are adapting to doctor’s orders. At Sacred Heart Church in Palm Desert, they’ve stopped passing consecrated wine in cups.

“During the exchange of peace and when we say the Lord’s prayer, we suggest you kind of nod and make eye contact and say, ‘Bless you’ as opposed to shaking hands,” Father Lincoln said.

The California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and prevention are recommending annual flu vaccinations for everyone six months of age and older, including pregnant women.

Nicole Comstock filed this report.

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