Santa Cruz County reports first flu death

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY — Santa Cruz County on Wednesday reported its first death caused by influenza this season, a person listed only as being under 65.

Another “young person” on Wednesday was in the hospital with the sickness in serious condition, said Dr. Arnold Leff of the Santa Cruz County Health Department.

Statewide, the H3N2 flu strain – which is known to cause more severe illnesses and higher mortality – has killed 27 people as of Dec. 31, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Leff said that health departments throughout the state are reporting higher-than-average instances of the disease. It is unclear whether the infection rate is peaking, or whether the season will get worse, he said.

In either case, Leff strongly suggested that everyone take precautions to avoid the disease.

“People ought to get vaccinated,” he said. “People ought to wash their hands frequently, and if they are sick, they shouldn’t go to work.”

The H3N2 flu strain is expected to worsen in the coming weeks, the Santa Cruz County Health Department said.

Everyone ages 6 months and older, especially pregnant women, should be vaccinated to prevent influenza illness and serious flu complications.

Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk of serious flu-related complications, such as young children, people 65 and older and pregnant women. That list includes people with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease.

To find a place to get vaccines, visit

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