Flu season proves to be deadlier than previous years

Emiliano Martin, Staff Writer

*Story updated 2/11/2014 to reflect increased amount of flu related deaths*


Sacramento County flu deaths have risen to 24 victims and flu season has only just peaked, according to a press release from the Sacramento Department of Health and Human Services on Feb. 5.

This year’s viruses have hit an unlikely group compared to previous years.

“The biggest difference [in this year’s flu from previous years] is that it’s hitting rather healthy 18 to 64 year olds,” said Cosumnes River College’s Nurse Michelle Barkley. “It’s hitting working adults and killing them. That’s why it’s been on the news.”

There are three strains of flu in Sacramento County, Influenza A, Influenza B and H1N1. The last of which circulated in 2009 and returned this year claiming younger victims than most common flus.

“People who didn’t take the flu shot are dying,” said Health Education Professor Jon Adams. “The reporter, from Channel 10 News, she was 46, went into the hospital and then died within a week. That’s scary. I mean, you go to the hospital and they know the symptoms, they know this is what you have, but couldn’t do anything.”

By the end of 2012-2013 flu season, there were only 16 deaths compared to the 24 so far this season.

There are preventative measures to take in order to avoid the flu.

“The first thing is to get a flu vaccine,” Barkley said. “The second thing is to stay home if you’re sick. Third, good hand washing, good hygiene and how you cough. If you cough, make sure you cover your cough into your sleeve, into your elbow.”

Many are concerned that getting a flu shot can only yield negative effects.

“I think it intentionally makes you sick,” said Robby Olivarez, an 18-year-old computer development major, who has not received a flu shot.

This is a commonly held sentiment.

“I try to advise every student get the shot, even now,” Adams said. “I think a lot of people get scared thinking ‘It made me sick one year, so I don’t ever want to do it again,’ but that’s not a rational thought right there.”

Many, such as 46-year-old English major Pamela Enmark, attempt to stay away from someone who seems sick.

“What’s challenging with the flu is that there are people who carry it and get milder cases and you may be around them and not know it,” Barkley said.

Look for “cough, congestion, body aches and fever,” Barkley said. The flu basically shows its early signs as amplified cold symptoms and “it takes about two days to get sick.”

If you feel these symptoms, call your primary care physician immediately and stay home from school or work.

“It’s a very small act that has a profound effect,” said Eugene Le, a 25-year-old biology major, who has received a flu shot.