Flu tent set up at Loma Linda as cases on rise; OC suffers first flu death of season

Loma Linda University Medical Center has set up an overflow tent to treat the increasing number of patients they're receiving suffering from the flu.

The hospital says they've been receiving a high volume of flu patients in just the last two weeks.

The medical episode comes in the wake of Orange County's first reported flu-related death of this season. The OC Health Care Agency confirmed that a 65-year-old man from Tustin who had underlying health conditions died of complications related to influenza B infection.

Loma Linda University Health says the hospital is seeing influenza B, which has not been the predominant strain since 1992, on the rise based on the number of patients coming in for treatment.

Influenza is a seasonal respiratory illness that can be caused by influenza A or B viruses. Symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills, and fatigue.

Flu illness can be severe and could lead to death. The virus is mainly spread through droplets from cough and sneezes, according to health officials who add the best way to protect against both influenza A and B viruses is by getting vaccinated each year.

"Vaccinations are recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older, and are especially important for infants, young children, pregnant women, adults over 50 and those with chronic medical conditions. Close contacts and caregivers of these high-risk people should also be vaccinated," the OC Department of Health said.

Health officials remind the public to take these important steps to help stop the spread of flu and other germs:

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue (or sleeve if you are caught by surprise)
• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water (or alcohol-based sanitizer, if not available)
• Stay home if you are sick (at least 24 hours after your fever is gone)

More information can be found at www.ochealthinfo.com/flu, by calling the Health Referral Line at 1-800-564-8448 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by visiting www.cdph.ca.gov.