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Flu cases on the rise across the Central Coast - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Flu cases on the rise across the Central Coast

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The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is reporting a significant increase in influenza activity over the past two weeks, including five outbreaks in residential healthcare facilities across the county. 

San Luis Obispo County health officials say they are also seeing more confirmed cases of the flu this year than usual and more people visiting hospital emergency rooms with the flu.

Health officials say the predominant strain of flu this year is H3N2, which tends to cause more severe illnesses, more hospitalizations, and more deaths. The flu vaccine has also reportedly been found to be less effective against H3N2 due to mutations in the virus.

However, officials say the flu vaccine still provides critical protection and may help lessen symptoms and potential complications from the flu. The vaccine is still available from your healthcare provider.

Everyone aged 6 months and older is urged to get the influenza vaccine, especially those who are at highest risk of severe illness: adults over 65, children under 5, pregnant women, and those with underlying health conditions such as lung or heart disease. 

Other ways to protect yourself from the flu: 

  • Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren't available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. This helps prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.

If you do get the flu:

  • Stay home, avoid contact with others, stay hydrated, and rest.
  • Watch for signs that it may be more serious and seek treatment early if necessary. Medications such as Tamiflu are most effective in treating the flu and reducing complications when taken during the first two days of illness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 36 states, including California, are experiencing widespread flu activity.

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