Health

10-Year-Old Dies of Flu; Season Total Tops 200

flu vaccine

A 10-year-old boy is one of 32 new flu-related deaths reported in San Diego last week, bringing this season’s total to 206, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

The boy died on Jan. 25 after being hospitalized with influenza A/H3. He was not vaccinated for the flu and had underlying medical conditions. He is the second San Diego child to die with flu complications this season. Two pediatric flu-related deaths were reported each of the past two seasons.

“The death of a child because of influenza is very unfortunate. Our condolences go out to the family for their tragic loss,” said Wilma Wooten M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer.

The ages of this season’s flu fatalities range from 1 to 101. Twenty-six (13 percent) of these deaths were people under 65 years old, which are the only ones public health agencies are required to report in California.

The County informs the public about all flu deaths. The high number of deaths reported this year is typical of severe seasons when the influenza A/H3 virus causes most of the illnesses.  The County’s broad surveillance and use of reporting systems that provide fast and detailed results are also contributing to the high local counts compared to prior years and other parts of the country.

Despite the additional deaths reported, new lab-confirmed cases and emergency room visits due to influenza-like illness decreased significantly last week.

“The San Diego region’s flu season had a peak in late December, but a second peak could occur. People still should continue to get vaccinated, since the flu season often lasts through the end of March, early April, or even later,” Wooten said.

For the week ending Jan. 27, 2018, the County Health and Human Services Agency is reporting the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 6 percent of all visits (compared to 9 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 601 (compared to 1,168 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 206 (compared to 33 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 14,289 (compared to 2,398 last season)

It’s Not Too Late for a Flu Shot

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated. The vaccine is safe and effective. It takes two weeks for immunity to develop.

CDC also recommends that people should prevent the spread of germs and take antivirals when prescribed by a doctor. Some local pharmacies may be out of specific medications, but there is no national shortage of antivirals. Sick people should call around if their local pharmacy is out and send a family member or friend to pick up the medications to avoid exposing others to the virus.

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