Health

Flu Cases Still Falling, Deaths Increase to 67

flu vaccination syringe

Three additional flu deaths were reported last week while the number of influenza cases in the region continued fall, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

The ages of the three people who died ranged from 55 to 96 years of age and all had underlying medical conditions. Through April 20, a total of 67 flu deaths have been reported this season. A total of 341 influenza fatalities had been reported at the same time last year.

A total of 171 lab-confirmed flu cases were reported last week, compared to the 243 cases the week before.

The most commonly identified flu strain causing local illnesses is now influenza A H3N2, which tends to sicken the elderly and the very young, as well as those with chronic medical conditions. Influenza A Pandemic H1N1 continues to circulate and a low number of influenza B viruses are also being reported.

“While the number of flu cases continues to drop, influenza is still making San Diegans sick,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “People should continue getting vaccinated and taking other preventative measures to avoid getting the flu.”

The County Health and Human Services Agency publishes the weekly Influenza Watch report, which tracks key flu indicators and summarizes influenza surveillance in the region.

For the week ending April 20, 2019, the Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 3% of all visits (compared to 3% as the previous week).
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 171 (compared to 243 the previous week).
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 67 (compared to 341 at this time last season).
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 9,174 (compared to 20,640 at this time last season).

 Your Best Shot Against 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; and
  • 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; and
  • If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others.

The flu vaccine is available at doctors’ offices, community clinics, 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