Health

27-Year-Old Among Latest Flu Victims

A 27-year-old woman is among nine San Diegans whose deaths are being attributed to complications of influenza in the latest report from the County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) released Wednesday.

The woman, who tested positive for Pandemic H1N1 and had underlying medical conditions, is the youngest flu victim reported in the county this season said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer.

 For the week ending Feb. 1, 2014, HHSA released the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 10 percent (unchanged from previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 468 (down from 609 previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 29
  • Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 3,083

“There are influenza deaths every year. Unfortunately, more young and middle-age people are dying this flu season because Pandemic H1N1 is the prevalent strain that is circulating,” Wooten said. “Influenza activity remains elevated so people should continue getting vaccinated and taking other preventive measures to avoid getting sick.”

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San Diego residents who have died from influenza this season ranged in age from 27 to 92 years of age and all had underlying medical conditions or were of advanced age. Sixty-five deaths were reported last flu season.

More people have required intensive care for influenza at local hospitals this season, with 160 cases reported compared to 116 for all of last season.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every year. The vaccine is especially important for people who are at higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu, including people with certain medical conditions, pregnant women, and people 65 years and older.

The current flu vaccines offer protection against Pandemic H1N1, Influenza A H3N2 and Influenza B strains. It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop after getting vaccinated.

In addition to getting vaccinated, you should also wash your hands thoroughly and often, use hand sanitizers and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

Staying away from sick people, cleaning commonly touched surfaces and staying home when sick are also recommended.

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