Health

Teen Dies from Influenza in San Diego County

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A 17-year-old girl died from influenza and is the first pediatric flu death reported this season, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

The teen died Feb. 25, 2017, from influenza A/H3 and had an underlying medical condition. The death was just reported last week.

Three other deaths were also reported last week, bringing this season’s total to 72. That’s compared to 68 deaths last year, including a 9-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl.

“Influenza deaths are very unfortunate, but a teen dying from the flu is especially tragic,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Many people may have spring vacations coming up, and you should get vaccinated at least 2 weeks before your trip.”

To date, the people who died ranged in age from 17 to 98 years old. All except three had underlying medical conditions and most were over the age of 65.

For the week ending March 18, 2017, the Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 3 percent of all visits (4 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 200 (compared to 277 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 72 (compared to 57 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 4,944 (compared to 5,437 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