Health

Flu Deaths Increase to 7 in San Diego County

Another flu death was reported in San Diego County last week, bringing this season’s total to seven, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

The seventh death was that of a 73-year-old man who died Dec. 16 from influenza A. His vaccination status is pending and whether he had underlying medical conditions is being investigated. The other six people who have died this season had underlying medical conditions and their vaccination status was unknown. Eleven flu deaths had been reported at the same time last season, when 342 influenza fatalities occurred.

“Influenza can be deadly, especially for the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Getting a flu shot is the best way to prevent getting sick.”

There was also an uptick in lab-confirmed influenza cases last week when 410 cases were reported. The figure is elevated, but significantly lower than the 2,332 cases that were reported during the same week last season.

“While we’re seeing fewer flu cases this season, everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated since the flu season could last through April and even May,” Wooten said.

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. All other indicators are at expected levels for this time of year.

For the week ending Dec. 22, 2018, the Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 4 percent of all visits (compared to 4 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 410 (compared to 283 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 7 (compared to 11 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 1,339 (compared to 3,973 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, 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