While most of the United States is facing a shockingly high number of flu cases this season, Santa Barbara has so far managed to steer relatively clear of the tenacious bug. The outbreak has officially reached epidemic proportions, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying on Friday that 7.3 percent of deaths last week were caused by pneumonia and the flu.

According to Susan Klein-Rothschild with Santa Barbara County’s Public Health Department, 22 cases of the influenza virus have been confirmed in 402 people tested since October 1, 2012. One person, an 80-year-old county resident, died from the illness.

Klein-Rothschild noted, however, that reporting mandates are limited, and that the data includes only people in intensive care and voluntary reports from medical providers. Klein-Rothschild said she predicts flu numbers to go up on the South Coast in February and encouraged area residents to get vaccinated as soon as they can. Find more information on that here.

Every year, an average of 200,000 U.S. citizens are hospitalized with complications from the flu, and around 36,000 die, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In order to inform the Santa Barbara community about the virus, Dr. Takashi Wada with Public Health will make a short presentation at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, January 15, at around 9:00 a.m.

He will discuss the current state of the virus and where Santa Barbara stands in relation to California and the rest of the country. Wada will also discuss where to get vaccinated, who should get vaccinated, and common indicators of the illness.


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