Peak of Sonoma County flu season still to come

  • Medical assistant Jazmine Burden, left, administers a flu shot to Jeremie Robenolt at the Sebastopol Community Health Center on Wednesday, January 9, 2013. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

The flu bug is spreading through Sonoma County, with the peak of the seasonal illness likely to come in the next few weeks, local physicians said.

"It's getting worse," said Dr. Gary Green, chief of infectious diseases at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Santa Rosa, reporting an uptick in flu cases in the emergency room, hospital and medical offices.

Santa Rosa Community Health Centers are seeing about 270 flu cases a week, accounting for 7 percent of all patient visits, said Dr. Francisco Trilla, chief medical officer for the clinics.

Green said it is a "typical flu year," with patients experiencing "moderate to severe symptoms," typically coughing, fever and aches.

The Type A influenza this year is a "tough virus," he said, a strain that is laying people low for five to seven days.

The California Department of Public Health's latest flu report, issued Friday, classified the state's influenza outbreak as "moderately severe."

The proportion of people seeing a health care provider for influenza-like illness hit 6.2 percent statewide for the week ending Jan. 26, up from 4.7 percent the previous week, the report said.

Five influenza-related deaths among people less than 65 years old were reported during the week, bringing to 14 the total deaths in California for the 2012-13 flu season.

Two of the deaths were in the San Francisco Bay area. A Public Health Department spokesman said that patient confidentiality laws precluded a more specific location.

California's most recent flu activity is "above the expected level for this time of year," spokesman Corey Egel said.

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