Health

Flu Death Toll Rises in San Diego

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Eight more influenza-related deaths were reported in San Diego, bringing this season’s total to 57, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

Although there were only 25 deaths related to influenza at this time last year, the average number of fatalities at this same point in the previous three seasons is 56. To date, the people who died ranged in age from 31 to 98 years old. All except three had underlying medical conditions, and most were over the age of 65.

“The number of confirmed flu cases went down last week in the county, even though reported deaths went up,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Influenza can cause illness at any time of the year, so people should get vaccinated and take other preventive measures.”

For the week ending Feb. 25, 2017, the Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 5 percent of all visits (unchanged from the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 335 (down from 408 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 57 (compared to 25 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 4,112 (compared to 3,812 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.

 

José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact