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3 die from flu in Los Angeles County

January 13, 2011 | 11:49 am

Three people in L.A. County have died recently from vaccine-preventable strains of flu, the first reported deaths in a relatively quiet flu season, health officials said Thursday.

A 48-year-old man, a 29-year-old woman and a 4-year-old boy died from the flu in the last two weeks, and although it was unclear whether any of them were vaccinated, health officials suspect weight was a contributing factor in two of the deaths. Both adults were obese, a newly described risk factor for complications from the flu.

Health officials were also investigating a possible flu outbreak this week at an unidentified school in Los Angeles County, where more than 50 students became ill with flu-like symptoms. At least three students have tested positive for flu.

Every year, there are about 1,000 flu-related deaths in Los Angeles County. The flu season lasts from fall to late spring. Officials urged everyone to get vaccinated, especially those who were at high risk of developing complications: pregnant women, children younger than 5, people over 50 and anyone with chronic medical conditions.

The deaths “are an unfortunate reminder that flu is a serious, potentially deadly illness that is also vaccine-preventable,” said Jonathan Fielding, director of the county’s public health department.

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-- Shan Li

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