The number of influenza deaths and flu cases increased last week, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.
Six new flu deaths were reported, bringing this season’s total to 39. The people who died ranged in age from 36 to 96 years old. All except two had underlying medical conditions.
Furthermore, after three consecutive weekly declines, the number of flu cases increased last week from 287 to 361.
“Influenza can be very unpredictable and case counts can go up or down from one week to the next,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “That’s why it’s important for people to get vaccinated and to take other preventive measures.”
For the week ending Feb. 4, 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 (up from 4 percent the previous week)
- Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 361 (up from 287 the previous week)
- Total influenza deaths to date: 39 (compared to 10 at this time last season)
- Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 2,762 (compared to 1,323 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.