Health

Local Flu Deaths Increase to 68, Weekly Cases Decrease Again

flu vaccine

An additional influenza death was reported locally last week, bringing this season’s total to 68, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

The new flu fatality is a 74-year-old man from North County who had underlying medical conditions. A total of 342 flu deaths had been reported at the same time last year.

Last week saw another decline in the number of lab-confirmed cases with 86 cases reported. A total of 114 cases were reported the week before. In comparison, 32 flu cases were reported during the same week last season.

“Flu activity in the region continues to wane, but it is still elevated for this time of year,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer.

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

This will be the last weekly Influenza Watch report that HHSA will publish this season. A final report will be issued after the season ends June 30, 2019.

For the week ending May 4, 2019, the Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 3 percent of all visits (compared to 3 percent the previous week).
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 86 (compared to 114 the previous week).
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 68 (compared to 342 at this time last season).
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 9,373 (compared to 20,767 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