News

Santa Clara County reports first flu death this season

Health officials track flu-related fatalities in people under 65 years old

Santa Clara County public health officials announced Tuesday the county's first flu death of someone under 65 years old during the current 2018-19 flu season.

The person who died was 39 years old and had other medical conditions that led to an increased risk of severe complications from the flu, according to the county Public Health Department.

More information about the person who died is not being released by the county because of medical privacy laws.

There were 11 such deaths of people under 65 in Santa Clara County during the 2017-18 flu season. At least four other cases of severe flu in people under 65 have been reported to the department so far this season.

The flu season generally continues through the spring each year.

Public health officials recommend that everyone over 6 months old get the flu vaccine, which is particularly important for pregnant women, young children, people over 65 years old and those with chronic medical conditions.

More information about the flu and where to get a vaccine can be found by visiting the county's website about the flu at sccphd.org/flu.

---

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

5 people like this
Posted by Linda Weinert
a resident of another community
on Jan 9, 2019 at 12:54 pm

When reporting influenza deaths please say whether the person had had this year's vaccine and if the influenza they died from matched the strain in the vaccine.


15 people like this
Posted by Flu Originates in Asia
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 9, 2019 at 1:07 pm

Are these influenza outbreaks primarily due to extensive migration from Asia and the countless mutations of the flu virus?

I've noticed many of their former inhabitants walking around town with face masks. Do they know something that unsuspecting local residents are unaware of?

In the past and with the possible exception of the 1918 Spanish flu, most seasonal flus seem to have a predominant association with Asian references (i.e. Asian flu, Hong Kong flu, Tokyo flu, Bangkok flu etc.) Some scientists say this is due to the dense populations in Asia and a correlation with duck and swine influenza which is easily passed on to humans.


17 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2019 at 2:02 pm

Building a wall won't stop the spread of some types of influenza. Migratory birds have spread some types:

Web Link

Here is what the CDC says you can do to reduce your likelihood of getting the flu:

Web Link


20 people like this
Posted by viral
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jan 9, 2019 at 2:11 pm

The 1918 Spanish flu did not originate in Spain. Spain was the only country to publicly admit they had it, as they were neutral at the time. Other countries kept it secret/censored at first because of the war.

In fact, the last person I heard interviewed on it suggested that while we may never know, recent research seems to indicate the US as source.

Get a shot, folks. Many people cannot get one for various reasons (compromised immune, etc..) and depend on YOU and I for 'herd' immunity.


5 people like this
Posted by Herd Immunity
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 9, 2019 at 4:16 pm

@Viral. What "herd immunity" when only 30-40% of adults and 60% of kids get the flu shot every year? Herd immunity has only occurred when natural diseases sweep through, as used to be the case with measles. This natural infection leaves almost everyone who had it with lifelong immunity. That is not the case with vaccines. It is merely a theory that vaccine-induced immunity can provide herd immunity if 90-95% of people are vaccinated. It is pure fantasy to think that an average vaccination rate of around 50% for the flu shot can provide herd immunity, even if the vaccine were 100% effective. Flu vaccine is ridiculously far from being 100% effective. Please get your flu shot if you want, but don't ply us with any herd immunity arguments for flu vaccine. It doesn't work that way.


40 people like this
Posted by viral
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jan 9, 2019 at 4:29 pm

@herd

It's math. Yes, herd immunity functions better with rates above 50%, but it's real. If you are not big on belief in theories, I have a cinder block we can hold over your head, and test your belief in the Theory of Gravity.

;)

Weak attempts at wit aside, sorry, I don't respect crackpot denials from anti-vaxxers any more than you apparently accept math and science.


22 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2019 at 8:00 pm

To answer @"Flu Originates in Asia"

The flu is NOT due to extensive migration. That is as much fake news as it gets. Flu is caused by the the influenza virus and it mutates. To make vaccines (which takes a long time of incubation period).... the CDC takes hypothetical guesses by taking look at strains that occur in other parts of the world to try to guess what may happen in North America. The reality is.. it's a hypothetical guess. If flu came from Asia and it was from the "extensive migration from Asia" (which sounds very Asian-phobic by the way.... we would have a 100% hit of positive perfect strains of flu vaccines simply by taking what flu strain is in Asia. We do not.

Secondly, Asian folks wear masks out of courtesy. When Asian folks from Asia (NOT ones who grew up in North America)... have a simple cough.. they wear a mask. IT's like how North American's cough and cover their mouth with their elbow/sleeve. It's a courtesy thing to not to spread one's germs when one coughs. In Asia.. they simply wear a mask.

The reality is... it's a global economy and the world is shrinking daily. Just look at the flight paths throughout the world. People travel so extensively (and not just to Asia).. even if you took Trump's stand and closed all migration borders and turned away all asylum seekers and every potential immigrant... we would still as a nation suffer influenza and get the flu. And every season.. the influenza virus strain continues to mutate. Why? Because.. it's a virus. VIruses tend to mutate. As the gene is replicated.. they will mutate and therefore become a new strain that can wreak more infections throughout various populations.

Does high density living help propagate infectious diseases? I'm sure to some extent it may. It depends on the mode of infectious disease transmission. How is the viral infection transmitted? If it's via human to human contact or aerosolized means... sure... high density living doesn't help. But if it's via mosquitoes or other non-human means of propagation (ie. rodents)... well...

So as much as one would like to point fingers at the Asian population and say "aha" they are spreading the germs... I hate to tell ya... viral infection propagation is not so ethnocentrically explained. One has to look at the pathogenesis of the virus.. and see how it propagates.

I would also like to say... such suspicious thinking of a certain ethnic minority group... can lead to darker areas of thinking that the world is already struggling with.

lets try to assume the best of all the various ethnicities for now. It helps. Especially in this divisive climate.


10 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2019 at 8:14 pm

in answer to @Herd Immunity

A natural infection of the influenza virus does NOT leave one with "lifelong immunity"
The influenza virus mutates. Please read about antigentic shift and drift from the CDC website.

Web Link

The fact that influenza virus mutates so well.... is part of the problem.


8 people like this
Posted by Influenza Origins
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 10, 2019 at 9:59 am

>> If flu came from Asia and it was from the "extensive migration from Asia" (which sounds very Asian-phobic by the way...we would have a 100% hit of positive perfect strains of flu vaccines simply by taking what flu strain is in Asia. We do not.

>> Flu is caused by the influenza virus and it mutates.

Yes. And it also mutates in transit. That is why many of the influenza variants have Asian references. The viruses also mutate in domesticated pigs and ducks which are then passed on to humans who are frequently around these animals as farmers and butchers.

Cleanliness and food-handling also enter into the picture. Some countries have more relaxed health standards than others and there are Asian cultures that raise a lot of pigs and ducks as part of their regular diet.

The flu can originate in poultry/swine and then be passed on to humans who travel abroad. It doesn't take a mass migration...even 50 people or less can infect a large population.





3 people like this
Posted by Herd Immunity
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 10, 2019 at 10:13 am

@Viral. Re: the theory of gravity, cute, but irrelevant. @Palo Alto Resident - the reason we can't get 90%+ uptake of the flu vaccine is due to the different antigens in the flu shot each year. If only 30-40% of adults and 60% of kids are getting a flu shot each year, there will never be "herd immunity" for that year's flu strains. I take issue with anyone using a herd immunity argument for flu vaccine. Even if the vaccine were a perfect antigenic match every year, herd immunity just does not exist for flu vaccine, and people in Palo Alto are too smart to go around using that argument.

Further, influenza efficacy studies cited by manufacturers clearly show that only 3 of 100 adults will have culture-confirmed influenza. It's a very low strike rate, but it's easy to confuse another virus with the flu so it always seems like more people have true ILI.

This Fluarix insert is an example of how poor the efficacy is for flu shots: (Web Link)

The cited efficacy study showed the flu vaccine reduced the "attack" rate from 3 in 100 to 1 in 100. In other words, the flu vaccine is 66% effective, at best. So, if 35% of adults get the flu vaccine each year and only 2/3rds of cases are prevented, it's the same as 23% of adults getting a 100% efficacious flu vaccine (which does not exist.) If 23% of adults are "immune" to the flu each year, I ask again, what herd immunity??

Further, a post-hoc analysis in that same insert found that Fluarix was only 13.8% effective for people ages 50-64. So, why is anyone ages 50-64 getting Fluarix? I'm certain the other brands are equally ineffective in this age group.(FYI, "high dose" Fluzone is for people ages 65+ because the flu vaccine is less effective the older someone is.)

I know you'll try to argue that flu vaccine makes the flu less severe for those who get the vaccine, but that is not what the Cochrane Collaboration found. Their meta-analyses have found that it does not reduce hospitalizations or deaths, nor does it protect those with respiratory conditions or the immune compromised. Here is what their most updated review says, "Vaccination may lead to a small reduction in the risk of hospitalisation in healthy adults, from 14.7% to 14.1%, but the CI is wide and does not rule out a large benefit (RR 0.96, 95% CI 0.85 to 1.08; 11,924 participants; low‐certainty evidence). Vaccines may lead to little or no small reduction in days off work (‐0.04 days, 95% CI ‐0.14 days to 0.06; low‐certainty evidence). Inactivated vaccines cause an increase in fever from 1.5% to 2.3%."(Web Link)

Please, Palo Alto, we are too smart. Please read the studies. If you do that and still want very mild protection that comes with a risk of Guillian-Barre syndrome (temporary or permanent paralysis) as a side effect, go right ahead.


5 people like this
Posted by viral
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jan 10, 2019 at 10:26 am

> I take issue with anyone using a herd immunity argument for flu vaccine...

"... because as an anti-vaxxer/conspiracy-theorist I refuse to be part of the herd (and my community) because of my inability to ignore fringe noise on the internet (and the internets never lies!)"

See? You could save a bunch of typing if you just copy and paste that every time.

Oh, yeah, another vaxxer tip from the internets: when you repeat this tripe in public, be careful to look up or look down; this avoids you having to see your friends roll their eyes at your conspiracy theories.


10 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 10, 2019 at 10:46 am

@ Influenza Origins:

You wrote: "Some countries have more relaxed health standards than others and there are Asian cultures that raise a lot of pigs and ducks as part of their regular diet."

I'm sorry - did you just imply on Asian countries have relaxed health standards and Asian cultures are the ONLY cultures that raise pigs and ducks as part of their regular diet??

We were just in Europe this winter and.... gosh darn it... they were raising pigs there too. Raising them. Breeding them. Feeding them. Living with them. Eating them. What is with this very specific Asian phobic perspective here?

This seems very close to a hop and a skip away from some very insidious anti-Asian sentiment that seems to leak a bit covertly around here. Yup .. I said it. There are rumblings of anti-Asian behavior in Palo Alto.


4 people like this
Posted by Herd Immunity
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 10, 2019 at 1:04 pm

@Viral, that is very sad that you use ad hominem attacks when I post industry science. The studies manufacturers print in package inserts and a meta-analysis from a highly respected independent science consortia are both "fringe noise?" And because it's easy to see the the flu vaccine is basically useless, I'm an "anti-vaxxer" and a conspiracy theorist? How does the science and reasoning that applies to the flu shot make someone a conspiracy theorist exactly?


20 people like this
Posted by viral
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jan 10, 2019 at 1:13 pm

[Post removed.]


18 people like this
Posted by viral
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jan 10, 2019 at 1:17 pm

Seriously, if you're trying to get traction for a conspiracy, my recommendation is avoid blanket idiocies such as:

> And because it's easy to see the the flu vaccine is basically useless

The "everyone else in science and medicine is wrong, just look at my statement" attitude really isn't working.

Again, just trying to help...


4 people like this
Posted by M. Feldman
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 10, 2019 at 2:39 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]





16 people like this
Posted by the lost Menu of options
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 10, 2019 at 2:58 pm

Anti Vaxxers and Warming Deniers are two peas in a pod?

Quite believable. Neither look at broadly accepted science or medicine, just cherry pick a "study" or two.

And try to tell us they're smarter than the CDC, Stanford, Harvard, etc..


9 people like this
Posted by 3rd World Illnesses
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 10, 2019 at 3:24 pm

>...some countries (not only in Asia but in Africa as well) are often more lax on health standards than others. That is why so many of the poorer regions are still so disease laden.

I went to India on a solo bike trek back in the 1980s and got severe dysentery. It was probably my own fault as I am a vegan and consumed produce from the local street vendors. The native inhabitants seemed to be immune...maybe it's genetics and only those who can actually process questionable food managed to survive over the ages.

Another friend got deathly ill in Mexico...again attributable to eating 'street food'.

There is definitely a correlation between cleanliness and disease. That's common sense and I would suspect that some pigs and poultry are handled more cleanly in some countries than others.

Now whether that has anything to do with mutating flu viruses, I haven't the foggiest but most of them are named after Asian countries and cities where they may have originated prior to earning pandemic status.


4 people like this
Posted by Shocked
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 10, 2019 at 3:30 pm

I'm shocked at the undertones of racism in some of these posts.
Bubonic plague, small pox, cholera, scarlet fever... did they originate in Asia as well? Come on folks. Lets not pretend to turn a blind eye to the racist tones coming through here


2 people like this
Posted by Herd Immunity
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 10, 2019 at 5:33 pm

@Lost Menu of Options - I didn't cherry pick any studies, I cited a meta-analysis by the Cochrane Collaboration, an independent science group. I guess you don't know what a meta-analysis is? It's when data from all the studies are combined together and statistically analyzed as a whole. In other words, it's the entire body of evidence on flu vaccine, with the highest possible degree of scientific rigor - much higher than a single study, a group of studies, or a literature review. (Web Link) And when I cited the efficacy study, it was from the manufacturer's package insert - which, like a high school student submitting their best SAT score to a college - was cherry-picked by industry to put the Fluarix vaccine in the best light possible.

So the cost-benefit does not work for the flu shot. The CDC and manufacturers know this, so they count on people like you to be their marketing victims and not read the studies. For now, there are more of you than there are of me. Wake up before flu shots become mandatory for adults.


8 people like this
Posted by the lost Menu of options
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 10, 2019 at 7:34 pm

Oh, please....

"And try to tell us they're smarter than the CDC, Stanford, Harvard, etc.."

I'm wrong, most of science is wrong, you're the unrecognized genius.

You da man. Happy now?


18 people like this
Posted by Silvio VZ
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 10, 2019 at 8:15 pm

I'd like to think the antti vaxers are a bunch of Trumpers, but there's a bunch of crazy lefties up in Marin with the same crazy ideology.

What gives? What drives the crazy? I'm really curious.


2 people like this
Posted by Herd Immunity
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 11, 2019 at 9:52 am

@the lost Menu of options @Silvio VZ, the weakest arguments are ad hominem attacks. Where is *your* science to support your hubris? I won't hold my breath, especially after you get the flu shot a couple years in a row - you are 6 times more likely to shed virus if you do get an ILI: Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by viral
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jan 11, 2019 at 11:15 am

> Where is *your* science to support your hubris?

I can't speak for them, but you know *my* answer.

I do NOT have *my* science.

I use the science from scientists and medical professionals.

You use some random junk that you cherry-pick from the internet, and claim it as *your* science?

You have falsely assigned the hubris. Projection.


2 people like this
Posted by Herd Immunity
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 11, 2019 at 12:53 pm

@Viral. OK, so you haven't read any science on the topic. And you are confusing a meta-analysis on the flu vaccine by an independent consortia with "cherry-picked" studies. I'll just write HUBRIS in all caps now. The flu shot emperor has no clothes, but you can pretend he does!


6 people like this
Posted by viral
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jan 11, 2019 at 1:14 pm

Yes, your conspiracy is based on data you linked to. You're wrong, but yes, you've got links.

You tell us that Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute of health, Stanford, Harvard, UCSF, etc.. are all wrong.

Dang, that previous poster is correct - YOU DA MAN! (yes, all caps for your hubris)

Get a shot folks. Don't listen to conspiracy theorists. Protect yourself, your families and your community.

Thank you, Palo Alto Online for your reporting. Please keep it up.


6 people like this
Posted by Some Will Become Extinct
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 11, 2019 at 2:15 pm

the flu vaccine like fluoridated water is being utilized en masse to slowly destroy the American way of life. soon only people naturally resistant to the flu will remain. they have mutant genes which are impervious to these kinds of viruses. the weakened vaccines only get stronger against the older flus but there are so many new strains emerging through mutation.

the only way to avoid this contamination is by isolating oneself from others. a biosphere living environment is our only hope but Palo Alto is more focused on building more offices and apartments. More people = slow seasonal death.


4 people like this
Posted by Biological Evolution of the Species
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 11, 2019 at 5:53 pm

Every culture has brought a new disease that wiped out the original inhabitants (e.g. the white man brought smallpox to the New World and measles to Hawaii). Ironically the Native Americans gave gonorrhea to the white settlers but the settlors managed to survive.

The Asian flu variants are simply a recurrent and historical pattern of biological impacts on existing societies/civilizations.


2 people like this
Posted by R.Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 12, 2019 at 5:28 pm

R.Davis is a registered user.

Anyone who's ever been a parent knows that their kids often bring these 'bugs' into the household...where the flu actually originates is subject to speculation.


4 people like this
Posted by Influenza Origins
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 14, 2019 at 1:43 pm

> I'm sorry - did you just imply on Asian countries have relaxed health standards and Asian cultures are the ONLY cultures that raise pigs and ducks as part of their regular diet??

Raising duck and pigs is one thing. How they are fed, slaughtered and handled for human consumption is another. This practice varies.

The same can be said of agricultural practices (i.e. choice of fertilizer, irrigation sources and what not).

This is not science but rather common sense.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

A new home in Redwood City for Mademoiselle Colette's croissants
By Elena Kadvany | 1 comment | 8,239 views

Electric vs Gas Heat: Which wins?
By Sherry Listgarten | 18 comments | 3,833 views

Lights Out! Foods to Snuggle With in the Dark
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 1,683 views

What to do with all those cardboard boxes
By Cheryl Bac | 2 comments | 1,466 views

Some answers, please, PG&E
By Diana Diamond | 6 comments | 859 views

 

Race Results Are In

Thank you for joining us at the 35th annual Moonlight Run & Walk! All proceeds benefit the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday fund, supporting local nonprofits serving children and families.

Click for Race Results