Health

Eighth San Diego Flu Death Reported; Cases Jump Again

flu vaccination syringe

An additional influenza death was reported in the San Diego region, bringing this season’s total to eight, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

The 70-year-old San Diego man died Dec. 19 from influenza A Pandemic H1N1 and had underlying medical conditions.

Also, the percentage of people with influenza-like illness at local emergency departments nearly doubled, jumping to 7% after holding steady at 4% for several weeks.

“Influenza can be life-threatening, especially for the elderly, the very young and people with underlying medical conditions,” said M. Winston Tilghman, M.D., acting County public health officer. “This is the time of the flu season when cases start to increase. If you have not gotten a flu shot, do it now.”

The number of lab-confirmed cases rose 57% last week when 755 cases were reported, compared to 482 cases the previous week.

To date, 2,456 flu cases have been reported locally this year, compared to 1,336 at the same time last season.

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. The report is released every Wednesday during the flu season.

For the week ending Dec. 21, 2019, the Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 7% of all visits (compared to 4% the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 755 (compared to 482 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 8 (compared to 7 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 2,456 (compared to 1,336 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