Swine flu deaths mount across Bay Area

The H1N1 virus that caused a global scare in 2009 has now claimed the lives of 17 18 people in the Bay Area since the start of the flu season in October.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office confirmed today there have been 3 confirmed cases of the swine flu within Elmwood Jail, while Solano County also reported its first death.

Sgt. Kurtis Stenderup, a spokesman for the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office, said the jail was also dealing with at least four suspected cases and at least 200 exposed inmates.

Four more swine flu deaths were reported this Monday, two within Santa Clara County. The surge in fatalities comes at a time when pharmacies like CVS and a Walgreens are reporting a shortage in flu shots.

The virus also claimed the life of 23-year-old Matthew Walker of Santa Rosa last Wednesday.

Doctors found out that Walker, initially admitted to the hospital late December with pneumonia according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, was infected with the H1N1 virus only after putting him into a coma to alleviate his coughing symptoms. Unfortunately, his diagnosis came too late.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, this strain of the virus seems to leave those aged 65 and older less vulnerable, but attacks a younger population. Public health officials have advised to stay at home if sick and to take extra care when washing your hands.

You can find your nearest flu shot provider here.