Health

First Local Flu-related Death of the Season Reported

A 90-year-old man who died from complications due to influenza is the first local flu-related death recorded this season, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency reported today.

The man, who had existing medical conditions, tested positive for influenza A and died on Oct. 28. Last flu season, the first of 97 influenza-related deaths in the county did not occur until January when activity was higher.

“Influenza activity in San Diego is currently low, but this unfortunate death reminds us that it can be a serious and deadly disease,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “That is why it is strongly recommended that people get the vaccine.”

According to the County’s first Influenza Watch report of the season issued last week, there have only been 80 total lab-confirmed influenza cases as of Oct. 24.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported influenza activity is also low across the United States. Influenza activity in California is sporadic, meaning that small numbers of laboratory-confirmed influenza cases have been reported, but there is no increase in cases of influenza-like illness. 

The current flu vaccines offer protection against pandemic H1N1, as well as influenza A H3N2 and influenza B strains.

The 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 best protection against the flu is to get vaccinated, and now is the time to do it,” Wooten said.

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 vaccine is available throughout San Diego County at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies. County public health centers have flu vaccine available for children and adults with no medical insurance. For a list of locations, visit sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact