Four flu cases reported in Los Angeles County

Three adults and one child have been confirmed as the first locally acquired flu cases in Los Angeles County, the Department of Public Health announced on Tuesday.
All of the patients, who are residents of West Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley, have recovered. According to county health officials, the cases mark the beginning of a flu season that can last until as late as May, the Contra Costa Times reports.
Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the county health officer, said that these cases should act as a reminder for people to get a flu vaccination. Both of the strains of the flu that infected the four patients are covered by this year's flu vaccine, which also protects against an influenza B strain.
The county will start offering free flu vaccine at clinics next week. Health officials particularly recommend that pregnant women, children under five, adults over 50, people with chronic medical conditions, and people in nursing homes or long-term care facilities should get vaccinated.
Each year in the United States, influenza accounts for approximately 200,000 hospitalizations and an average of 24,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms of the flu include cough, fever, headache and muscle ache. Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets that occur when people with the flu sneeze, cough or talk. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less frequently, a person might get the flu by touching a surface or object with flu virus on it and then touching their own eyes, mouth or nose.