Fourteen more people under the age of 65 have died of the flu in California as of March 7th, pushing the death toll for the 2013-2014 flu season to 332 statewide, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
The number of deaths this season, fueled mostly by the potent H1N1 influenza virus, is more than three times the total number of deaths reported for the entire flu season last year, state health officials say.
H1N1 was responsible for the 2009-10 pandemic that claimed 539 lives in California.
An additional 19 deaths are suspected to be flu-related and are under investigation, the CDPH reports.
Still, the number of deaths is declining each week, bolstering health officials' belief that the epidemic peaked several weeks ago.
Most of those who have died suffered from other medical problems. Seven were children.
Locally, 61 of the reported deaths were in Los Angeles County (including 7 in Long Beach), 23 were in San Bernardino County, and 15 deaths were in both Orange and Riverside Counties.
Health officials continue to urge those who have yet to get a flu shot to do so.
Year Number of Flu Deaths
2013-2014 (through Jan. 25) 147
2010-2011 * 89
April 23 2009 – August 28 2010 ** 539
The state has only required the reporting of flu deaths of those under 65 since 2011; prior to that year it was voluntary.
* Only deaths between 18-64 were reportable for 2010-2011. The other seasons report deaths between 0-64.
** This covers a longer period than the regular flu season; there was no vaccine at the beginning of the pandemic.
Source: California Department of Public Health