FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE/KSEE) – Throughout California, there have been more than 200 flu deaths, while we’re only halfway through the flu season.

The first flu-associated death of someone under the age of 65 in Fresno County’s current flu season (between October 2 to December 17) was reported by health officials on Wednesday.

The person who died was between the ages of 18 to 65. Officials would not give any more information on the person who died.

Health officials say around this time is when they normally see flu deaths.

“This is a concern to us right now. This is an individual who was under the age of 65. Usually, we see our first death in an individual over the age of 65,” said Leticia Berber, a health educator with the Fresno County Department of Public Health.

Health officials say this flu season is bringing them concern.

In 2021 there were 56 total deaths from the flu in California throughout the entire flu season.

This year, less than three months into this fly season, there are already more than four times that number.

According to health officials, a huge reason for that increase is because in 2022, there have been less masking restrictions compared to the flu seasons during the pandemic.

While the numbers are scary to health officials, they say this is sadly the time flu deaths mainly happen.

“We usually see our first death at the end of December, beginning of January, so this is something that we do expect, unfortunately,” said Berber.

While in Fresno County alone, there were eight deaths during the 2021 flu season. Berber says every year the flu is unpredictable.

“At any time new strains can appear. Viruses are very unpredictable, it’s just like COVID-19. We don’t know what to expect next year. We don’t know what we’re going to be seeing next month,” she said.

With more family gatherings planned for this weekend, the health department suggests everyone to take precautions like masking and staying up to date with the season’s flu shot.

“This is a reminder the flu can affect anyone at any age,” she said.

Nationally so far this flu season, there have been over 2,700 deaths from the flu.

The entire flu season last year claimed the lives of just over 2,000. More information about protecting against influenza can be found at outdotheflu.com.