Three more Southern Nevadans have died from the flu, two Tuesday and one Wednesday, according to the Southern Nevada Health District. That brings the death count for this flu season to nine, three times the number killed by the virus last year.
Federal privacy laws do not allow names of the deceased to be disclosed.
“The H1N1 strain of the virus is prevalent this year, though we do have other strains out there,” Dr. Joe Iser, the district’s chief health officer, said Wednesday. “People should definitely get their flu shots. There’s still time. We don’t know when this is going to end.”
Everyone older than 6 months should get a flu vaccination, Iser said. For information about the health district’s flu clinics, call (702) 759-0850 or go to www.SNHD.info on the Web.
The H1N1 flu strain, responsible for the 2009 swine flu pandemic that spread to 74 countries and killed nearly 300,000 people, has become so common in the United States that it was included in this year’s flu vaccination.
Iser said that when the H1N1 virus is the predominant virus circulating, more deaths occur, largely because healthy younger adults don’t fight it off as readily as they do other flu strains. It is still unclear, he said, why the H1N1 strain is more deadly in younger adults.
With other flu strains, those with the highest risk of flu-related complications include children younger than 5, pregnant women and people older than 65. Four elderly people have died from the flu in Las Vegas this year.
Three of this year’s nine deaths were in adults age 19-44 and two others were in the 45-65 age group.
Statistics kept by the health department show that in December there were 72 reported flu cases in Clark County, nearly double the number in December 2012.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this week that Nevada is now one of 40 states with widespread flu activity, meaning more than 50 percent of counties are reporting flu activity.
The federal agency also reported that Nevada is one of 14 states experiencing a high proportion of outpatient visits to health care providers
The pediatric death toll for the flu season in the U.S. is now 20. No children have died of the disease in Clark County this year — one local child succumbed to the virus in 2013. The CDC does not collect data on the number of adult flu deaths. Experts estimate flu deaths reach as high as 49,000 each year.
In 2009-2010, the H1N1 virus spread from Mexico to 74 other countries. During that time, an unusually high 5,567 cases of flu were reported in the Las Vegas Valley, with 61 million cases reported nationwide.