SANTA ANA ( — Authorities Thursday said Orange County has recorded their first flu death this season by someone under 65 years of age.

A 28-year-old San Juan Capistrano woman was confirmed as the first person under 65 to die from an influenza-related illness this season in the OC.

The unidentified woman died sometime last week, according to Deanne Thompson of the Orange County Health Care Agency.

The flu often claims the lives of the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. Flu-related deaths of people 65 or older are not reported in the state.

Reports of the disease have been on the rise over the past couple of weeks, Thompson said.

So far this flu season, there have been eight “severe” cases, up from three at this time last year, Thompson said. A case is categorized as severe if the victim must be hospitalized in an ICU or their condition becomes fatal, Thompson added.

Most of the cases are Influenza A, and the majority of those are due to a strain called pH1N1, Thompson said.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials issued an alert recently saying this strain has hit young and middle-aged adults particularly hard.

Officials are encouraging residents to get flu shots, Thompson said.

There’s “plenty of vaccine available,” Thompson said.

She reminded OC residents that flu shots cannot cause anyone to get the virus.

Another way to help stem the flu is to avoid going to work when sick, covering the nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing and washing hands thoroughly, Thompson said.

To get more information on how to get a flu shot, call (800) 564-8448

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