California Department of Public Health officials reported yesterday that the first influenza-associated death this year in an individual less than 65 years old was a Santa Clara County resident.
Department officials did not provide details on the death, but highlighted it as a "somber reminder" that the flu can be fatal and a reason for people to get vaccinations.
"I am troubled when the flu turns into a loss of life," said Karen Smith, the state's public health officer. "It doesn't have to."
The flu virus is expected to circulate at peak levels between December and April, department officials said.
Flu activity in the state is currently low and within expected activity levels, according to the department.
But with flu season approaching, the department is recommending the annual flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older, including pregnant women.
The flu can cause severe illnesses across all ages, according to the department.
In the annual California Influenza Surveillance Report, there were 78 reported flu-related deaths in individuals under 65 in the state last year.
In the Bay Area, San Mateo County had the most fatalities, at five reported deaths, with 12 intensive care unit stays related to the flu.
Santa Clara County had 14 people under 65 taken to the intensive care unit last year, and two county residents died.