Influenza Widespread in Marin, Bay Area

Public Health Officer says it’s not too late to get a flu shot

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 10.30.08 AM.pngSan Rafael, CA – County public health departments around the Bay Area are announcing that influenza activity is increasing and has reached “widespread” levels. Areas with the most influenza activity in the state include the Bay Area. Flu transmission in Marin County began the week of December 11 and substantially increased during the week of December 25.

In Marin, influenza activity reaches its highest levels between December and February. It is remarkably predictable for the flu to become widespread in January. Public health officials, including Dr. Lisa Santora of the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), recommend the annual flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older, including pregnant women. “Influenza vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect you and your family from the flu,” Santora said. “It’s not too late to get vaccinated.” 

Each flu season, the County’s Communicable Disease and Prevention and Control unit (CDPC) actively monitors flu activity, including laboratory testing results, intensive care admissions and deaths in persons younger than 65 years old, and outbreaks. During the last week of December, 70 of 201 flu surveillance tests (35 percent) were positive. Additionally, there have been five reports of influenza outbreaks in eldercare and rehabilitation settings. 

Tested flu specimens very closely match current vaccine strains, leading to good protection against the flu, according to the California Department of Public Health. People at highest risk for severe complications from influenza include adults 65 years of age and older, children younger than five years old, pregnant women, and those with certain medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, and weakened immune systems.

In addition to recommending a vaccination, health officials advise people to take the following steps to protect themselves and loved ones from influenza.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.
  • Practice other good health habits such as getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing stress, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating  nutritious food.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue. People at higher risk who show flu symptoms should contact their health care provider. Health care providers may prescribe antiviral medications that reduce the severity and duration of illness. Antibiotics are not effective against the flu.

For more information about influenza, visit or the California Department of Public Health Influenza page. To find a flu vaccine at a location near you, visit the Vaccine Finder.

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