- Associated Press - Saturday, November 7, 2015

LOS ANGELES (AP) - State health officials have announced the first two flu-related deaths in California for the current flu season.

The Department of Public Health reported on Wednesday that a Santa Clara County resident between 18 and 65 years old - and who had suffered other health complications - was the state’s first adult flu fatality.

On Friday, the department announced that a baby in Stanislaus County, who was less than a year old, succumbed to the highly contagious respiratory illness.

“As California’s public health officer, I am saddened when the flu turns into loss of life,” Dr. Karen Smith, the state public health officer, said in a statement. “It is especially troubling when a baby, too young to be vaccinated, passes away.”

She recommends vaccination for children as young as 6 months and anyone who is in contact with babies not old enough to be vaccinated.

Smith said influenza viruses circulate at their peak levels from December to April and is urging people to get vaccinated before the flu spreads widely.

According to a recent report, 78 people under the age of 65 died from influenza-associated illnesses during the 2014-15 influenza season in California.

Such deaths are reported to the state only involving victims younger than 65, so the actual number of deaths due to influenza was much greater because older people are especially vulnerable to the flu, the public health department said.

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