Health

2 Flu Deaths and Nearly 1,400 Cases Reported Last Week

Influenza cases reported last week in San Diego County rose to a season high of 1,390 cases, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

Two additional flu deaths were identified in the region, bringing this season’s total to 10.  A 77-year-old man died Dec. 24, and a 75-year-old man died Dec. 21. Both died from influenza A, and both had underlying medical conditions.

“The significant jump in new cases indicates that influenza is widespread in the county, just like it is in the state and throughout most of the nation,” said Thomas R. Coleman, M.D., M.S., acting County public health officer. “Our condolences go out to the families and friends of those who died from influenza this year.”

The number of lab-confirmed cases rose 643 last week when 1,390 cases were reported, compared to 747 cases the previous week.

The County Health and Human Services Agency publishes the Influenza Watch weekly report, which tracks key flu indicators and summarizes influenza surveillance in the region.

For the week ending Dec. 28, 2019, the report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 8% of all visits (compared to 5% the previous week, which was revised downward from 7% from the prior report)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 10 (compared to 9 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 3,838 (compared to 1,729 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. It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop.

Flu 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 aged 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 211 San Diego.

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