Health

More Flu Cases Being Reported This Year

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The total of local lab-confirmed influenza cases is outpacing the numbers reported at this time last year, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

Through Dec. 10, a total of 291 cases of influenza had been reported in the county, 113 more than at the same time last season, when 178 had been reported.

That is why County health officials are encouraging all San Diegans to get vaccinated before the worst of the flu season gets here.

“The flu is very unpredictable but we are seeing a larger number of cases being reported this year,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The best way to avoid getting sick is to get a flu shot.”

For the week ending December 10, 2016, the Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 2 percent of all visits (down from 3 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 61 (up from 40 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 1 (compared to 2 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 your 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