Flu Activity Slowing in San Diego

flu-woman-sneezing Image Credit: PhotoSpin

Flu activity in San Diego County has slowed down in recent weeks, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

For the second week in a row, the number of lab-confirmed flu cases dropped. A total of 501 were reported last week, compared to 973 two weeks ago. Also, the percentage of visits to local emergency departments from people experiencing flu-like symptoms was 3 percent last week, a significant drop from the peak of 13 percent reported in late December.

“Influenza activity has slowed down significantly compared to the end of 2017 when the flu season peaked locally,” said Wilma Wooten M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “While flu activity peaked earlier than in previous seasons, people should continue getting vaccinated since the season is likely to last at least another month, if not longer.”

Fourteen more flu deaths were identified last week, though 10 of these fatalities occurred earlier in the season and have been recently confirmed. A total of 283 local flu deaths have been reported this season.

The ages of the people who have died from flu this season range from 1 to 101. Thirty-six  (13 percent) of these deaths were of people under 65 years old, which are the only cases public health agencies are required to report in California. The County informs the public about all flu deaths.

A higher number of flu deaths is typically reported during a severe influenza season, which the county and the nation are experiencing. In San Diego County, the high number of flu deaths is also due to the County’s broad surveillance and use of reporting systems that provide fast and detailed results.

For the week ending Feb. 24, 2018, the County Health and Human Services Agency’s Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 3 percent of all visits (compared to 5 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 501 (compared to 767 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 283 (compared to 57 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 17,375 (compared to 4,124 last season)

It’s Not Too Late for a Flu Shot

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated. The vaccine is safe and effective. It takes two weeks for immunity to develop.

CDC also recommends that people should prevent the spread of germs and take antivirals when prescribed by a doctor. Some local pharmacies may be out of specific medications, but there is no national shortage of antivirals. Sick people should call around if their local pharmacy is out and send a family member or friend to pick up the medications to avoid exposing others to the virus.

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 or call 2-1-1.

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