An additional seven influenza deaths were reported last week but flu activity in the region is waning, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.
To date, 79 local influenza deaths have been reported this season, compared to 60 at the same time last year.
The people who died ranged in age from 17 to 99 years old. All except three had underlying medical conditions and most were over the age of 65.
Also, a total of 130 cases were reported last week, compared to 207 the previous week. Emergency department visits dropped a percentage point from 3 to 2 percent.
“It appears that influenza activity is winding down in the region,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “However, influenza is still present in the community and can cause illness throughout the year, so people should continue taking preventive measures to avoid getting sick.”
For the week ending March 25, 2017, the Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:
- Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 2 percent of all visits (3 percent the previous week)
- Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 130 (compared to 207 the previous week)
- Total influenza deaths to date: 79 (compared to 60 at this time last season)
- Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 5,084 (compared to 5,672 at this time last season)
How to Prevent the Flu
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. The vaccine is safe and effective. It takes two weeks for immunity to develop.
Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk of developing serious complications from influenza. They include:
- People with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and lung disease, even if symptoms are under control
- Pregnant women
- People 65 years and older
- People who live with or care for others who are at higher risk
In addition to getting vaccinated, people should also do the following to avoid getting sick:
- Wash hands thoroughly and often
- Use hand sanitizers
- Stay away from sick people
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Clean commonly touched surfaces
- If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others
The flu vaccine is available at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies. If you don’t have medical insurance, you can go to a County public health center to get vaccinated. For a list of locations, visit www.sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.