California so far spared from widespread flu outbreak plaguing much of U.S.

Riverside County bucking trend, seeing normal numbers of flu patients

It's being called the worst flu outbreak in a decade

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - There's concern over an aggressive flu strain that is spreading across the country and heading our way.

It has spread to 41 states where more than 2,000 people have been hospitalized with the virus.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, the virus has also caused the death of more than a dozen children.

The outbreak hasn't been quite as severe in California, or Riverside County.

The county's health department said Wednesday, for the week ending January 5, 8.5% of visits to Riverside County emergency departments were related to influenza-like illnesses. 

The agency said that compared to historical data, this is within normal limits.  Activity has increased over the past three weeks, but remains within expected limits.  Doctor visits for the flu and flu deaths throughout the county were also within normal limits.

The number of flu patients being treated at JFK Memorial Hospital in Indio is up 13 to 15 percent for this time of year.

"We are seeing more people that have colds and flus, both of the upper respiratory tract where they cough and have fevers and things like that, but also with gastrointestinal, we're seeing more viruses that way as well," said Dr. Troy Cashatt, the medical director of JFK Memorial Hospital's emergency room.

The current flu season began early.  It started in October rather than in January.  It's expected to last at least another five weeks.

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