Flu deaths rise to 15 in Valley: 7 in Fresno County, Madera County reports first

The Fresno BeeJanuary 21, 2014 

The Fresno County Department of Public Health is making flu shots available to the public for $6.

ERIC PAUL ZAMORA — THE FRESNO BEE Buy Photo

Fresno County health officials reported Tuesday that a seventh person has died of complications from influenza and that Madera County had its first death.

So far this winter, 15 people have died of flu complications in the central San Joaquin Valley.

The latest Fresno County resident to die of flu-related causes was a man in his 50s who had health problems, health officials said. It was unknown whether he had gotten a flu shot this winter.

Madera County's first death was a woman who had underlying health problems, said Health Director Van Do-Reynoso. The woman's medical records did not show that she had received a flu shot, but her vaccination status had yet to be completely determined, Do-Reynoso said.

Kings and Merced counties have had three deaths each and Tulare County has had one.

The deaths in the Valley have been associated with H1N1, a virus strain that sometimes is called "swine flu." The strain is widespread statewide and tends to be a more deadly flu virus than other strains, state health officials said Friday.

H1N1 has yet to wane in the Valley. Fresno County had 15 patients with influenza in intensive care units on Tuesday. Madera County had three severe cases.

The Fresno County Jail said 14 inmates had been confirmed with the virus and tests were pending for a handful of inmates. All are isolated from the inmate population, said Chris Curtice, spokesman for the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

Health officials encourage people to get flu shots and Fresno County's flu-shot clinic at 1221 Fulton Mall in downtown Fresno will have extended hours Wednesday, 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6310, banderson@fresnobee.com or @beehealthwriter on Twitter.

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