California health officials confirmed this previous Friday that 36 Californians under the age of 65 has died due to the flu in the 1st week of February --more than in any other week this season. The flu continues to be a nationwide problem and is considered to be the worst in nearly a decade. Hospitals all over Los Angeles and California have set up tents to assist a large number of flu patients, while many pharmacies have run out of flu medications. In total, more than 160 Californians under 65 have died from the flu since October, compared to a total of 80 confirmed influenza-associated deaths the entire flu season last year. This death toll might continue to climb with people often dying days, or weeks after first contracting the flu. While it is hard to predict how long the influenza season will last, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health expects influenza activity to remain elevated for several weeks to come. Influenza A (H3N2) viruses are the most common this season; H3N2- predominant seasons tend to be more severe. Take proactive steps to protect yourself against influenza by washing hands often with soap and water, avoiding close contact with sick people, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth. People who are sick with flu-like illness should stay home from school or work for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone in order to prevent spreading flu to others. For more information about the flu, including information on caring for a child sick with flu, visit www.publichea lth.lacounty.gov . For a video on influenza, visit http://bit.ly/FluVideoLAC .