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First flu-related death of the season reported in San Luis Obispo County
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First flu-related death of the season reported in San Luis Obispo County

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A male resident in San Luis Obispo County has died from flu-related complications, becoming the county's first death linked to influenza this season, health officials reported Tuesday. 

The identity and location of the individual weren't released, although the San Luis Obispo County Health Department said the man was at least 60 years old. 

There have been 70 deaths from the flu across the state since October, according to the California Department of Public Health, including one in Santa Barbara County

It's not known if the patient was vaccinated against the flu virus this season or if he had any underlying health risks, the County Public Health Department said. 

The man was infected with the "Type A" flu virus, which hasn't been as common across the state, health officials said, adding that "Type B" is the most common flu strain detected across the state.

Type B predominantly affects younger people from birth to age 24, while Type A tends to affect those from 25 to 64 years of age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In California, according to public health data, 6,203 flu cases were reported since Sept. 29, 2019, which marked the beginning of the flu season, with 62% of those, or 3,821, identified as Type B. 

Nationwide, 12,530 cases of influenza have been identified, with 58 percent of those cases, or 7,263, identified as Type B during the same period, according to the CDC. 

Flu activity is widespread across the state and continues to increase, health officials said.

California experienced a spike in reported flu cases, going from 829 in the week of Dec. 22 to 28, 2019, to 1,417 from Dec. 29 to Jan. 4, 2020, according to data

“This is a sad reminder that the flu can be very serious,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, San Luis Obispo County's public health director. “We extend our sincere sympathy to this patient’s family and ask everyone to help play a part in reducing the spread of flu in our county. We can all take steps to protect ourselves and our most vulnerable neighbors.”

Protective measures include getting a flu shot for anyone over 6 months of age, washing hands often, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home when sick. 

Flu shots are available from individuals' healthcare providers, at many local pharmacies and at Santa Barbara County Public Health Department clinics. 

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