Health

6 More Flu Deaths Reported in San Diego, Influenza Still Widespread

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Six additional flu-related deaths were reported in San Diego last week and influenza activity continues to be widespread, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

A total of 14 flu deaths have been reported in San Diego County this season. The ages of the people who died ranged from 45 to 96 years of age.  All, except a 45-year-old woman, had underlying medical conditions.

“Influenza can be deadly, especially for those with underlying chronic conditions. It is not too late to get vaccinated,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The vaccine is a good match against the circulating flu strains and can provide good protection against the illness.”

For the week ending Jan. 14, 2017, the Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 5 percent of all visits (up from 4 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 442 (down from 474 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 14 (compared to 3 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 1,788 (compared to 603 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