A 51-year-old man died from complications due to influenza and is the first flu-related death reported this season, the County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) reported today.
The man died Jan. 2, tested positive for Influenza A and had existing medical conditions. Last season, 65 flu-related deaths were reported in the county.
“While influenza deaths are very unfortunate, they are not uncommon,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Influenza can be a serious and deadly disease. That is why it is strongly recommended that people get the vaccine.”
Based on the County’s latest Influenza Watch report, covering the week ending Jan. 4, 2014, HHSA reported the following:
- Influenza-like-illness at emergency departments: 8 percent and elevated
- Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 716 (up from 357 last week)
- Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 361 (previous week’s total was 154)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported influenza is widespread across 25 states. In the CDC report, influenza activity in California is not shown as widespread but there are cases occurring throughout the state. Locally, influenza activity is elevated and at higher levels compared to this same time last flu season.
The predominant virus circulating nationally so far is Pandemic H1N1. In San Diego, about eight out of ten cases have been determined to be Pandemic H1N1.
The current flu vaccines offer protection against Pandemic H1N1, as well as Influenza A H3N2 and Influenza B strains. The CDC has determined that the vaccines are well matched for the currently circulating viruses.
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every year. The vaccine is especially important for people who are at higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu, including people with certain medical conditions, pregnant women, and people 65 years and older.
“The best protection against the flu is to get vaccinated. It is not too late to be immunized,” Wooten said.
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 vaccine is available throughout San Diego County at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies. County public health centers have flu vaccine available for children and adults with no medical insurance. For a list of locations, visit www.sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.