Numbers ‘Unprecedented’ for Past Ten Years, Says Public Health Director
-Eight Santa Barbara County residents have died from the flu in the past two weeks alone. By contrast, only three residents died throughout last year’s entire flu season, which typically runs from October to April. All eight people were ages 65 or older.
“These numbers are unprecedented for the past 10 years,” said Dr. Charity Dean, public health czar for Santa Barbara County. Dean said all but one of the eight had been vaccinated and all had been given flu-fighting medications. “I’m worried about how severe our flu season will be,” she said.
Dean said the number of patients who are testing positive for the flu at local hospitals and health clinics is also off the charts. “Our numbers are in line with statewide numbers, and they’re definitely cause for concern,” she said. Dean reported that local emergency rooms are slammed, reportedly experiencing a threefold increase in number of patients reporting flu-like symptoms. Emergency room waiting times have grown significantly longer as a result.
Initially, Dean said she wondered whether Santa Barbarans were reporting higher numbers in part because of the insult to the lungs inflicted by smoke from the Thomas Fire. Santa Barbara County, she said, began reporting elevated flu numbers sooner than the rest of the state. But now that the rest of the state has caught up, she said, she’s discarded that theory……more here