SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Flu activity is increasing across the state, including on the Central Coast. A CDC map depicting regions with high influenza activity shows Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties are in the red.
“Across the state it's been busier than normal," said doctor Rick Rosen, deputy health officer at the San Luis Obispo Public Health Department. “The number of deaths in the state of California due to the flu is 16.”
Rosen says SLO County is seeing an uptick in cases, too.
“It's still not the numbers we saw in 2017, which was a very bad flu season, but it's higher than would be expected for this time of year.”
Rosen says 18 people in SLO County got the virus, “and of those, 12 happened in the month of November.”
In Santa Barbara County, the Health Department reported nine cases this flu season so far.
Experts say we're seeing Type B influenza.
“Type B generally is not as bad," said Rosen.
But some are more vulnerable to the disease than others.
“Children, particularly under five, and people over 65 years of age," the deputy health officer said. “Certain strains of flu are more likely to attack cells deeper in the lungs, and those tend to cause more severe illness.”
Doctors are urging people to get vaccinated.
“It's still the most effective tool we have for preventing flu, and it's also helpful in that it prevents more severe flu disease.”
Rosen says that means if you get sick, you're less likely to end up in the hospital, and less likely to die from the flu.
Officials also recommend washing your hands, and covering your sneeze or cough --especially during holiday travels.
Some studies show you're 20 percent more likely of catching the cold or the flu when traveling by plane.