SACRAMENTO - There have been 45 deaths in California attributed to influenza, state officials report.
Two of the victims were under age 18.
"Flu activity continues to increase statewide, including reports of hospitalizations, severe disease and the number of deaths," Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the state Department of Public Health said. "We are clearly in the midst of what appears to be an earlier peaking, severe flu season, and I encourage everyone who has not yet gotten a flu vaccination to do so. The influenza vaccine remains the most effective way to protect yourself from the flu."
State officials said another 50 deaths were being investigated to determine if they were caused by the flu.
Sacramento County public health says 11 residents have died from the flu. Sixty-four patients have been admitted to hospital intensive care units for the flu. The predominate strain has been H1N1 (swine) flu.
Stanislaus County has had three deaths attributed to the virus and earlier this week, one person died due to flu complications in El Dorado County, according to officials.
The flu vaccination takes up to two weeks to fully protect against the H1N1, Influenza A And Influenza B strains.
Other precautions one can take include washing hands with soap and water, and avoid touching of the eyes, nose and mouth.
Flu symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, and body aches. People are urged to stay home when sick and cover their coughs and sneezes.