SACRAMENTO -- Two more people have died from the swine flu virus in Santa Clara County, bringing its total flu victims to 10 -- the most of any Bay Area county and the fifth-highest in the state, public health officials said Friday.
The California Department of Public Health announced that at least 147 other people have died statewide from the flu so far this season, with an additional 44 deaths remaining under investigation. The confirmation of those cases as flu-related would push the number of deaths to 191 in residents under 65, four of whom were confirmed as children, said Dr. Ron Chapman, the department's director.
The state's figure does not include the two new deaths in Santa Clara County.
That county's two new flu victims were men ages 43 and 54 who died in January. There were nine deaths in Santa Clara County in January and 10 since the flu season began in October, said Amy Cornell, a county Public Health Department spokeswoman.
The two newest victims suffered from the H1N1 flu virus, popularly known as "swine flu," but also had underlying medical conditions, though Cornell said it is unknown whether that might be considered a factor in their deaths.
Of the 10 people who have died from flu symptoms in Santa Clara County since October, six were women and four were men, ranging in age from 41 to 62. Nine had the H1N1 strain, Cornell said.
The nine Bay Area counties and Santa Cruz County have reported 35 flu-related deaths this season; after Santa Clara County, the highest Bay Area total is in Contra Costa County, which has had five flu-related deaths.
The state tracks influenza deaths only among people 65 and younger. The death toll does not include those older than 65, who are most vulnerable. Last season, 106 flu-related deaths were recorded in the state.
"This influenza season continues to be a severe one, as the increasing number of influenza-related deaths indicates," Chapman said in a statement. "Once again, I urge all Californians to get vaccinated because it is the best defense against influenza."
Los Angeles County reported the most deaths, 17, followed by Sacramento County with 15. The dominant strain this season is the H1N1 strain. The strain mainly affects young and middle-aged people.
A swine flu pandemic in 2009 and 2010 killed at least 150,000 people worldwide.