State health officials have confirmed another 16 flu-related deaths as of Feb. 28, bringing the official death toll this season to 318. That’s more than seven times as many people as had died from the flu by the same time last year, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Another 26 deaths are under investigation.
While the number of deaths continues to climb, state health officials say this especially severe flu season seems to be tapering off. Flu-related deaths have been declining for four straight weeks.
It’s not clear if that trend will hold, though. Officials say the flu can be unpredictable.
Most of those who have died had some other medical condition. Six were children. Among the 318 deaths, 52 have been in Los Angeles County, 13 in Orange County, and 15 in Riverside County.
Health officials say this flu season has been especially severe because of the predominance of the powerful H1N1 strain of the virus. They say it’s still not too late for anyone over the age of six months to get a flu shot.