Health

New Flu Death Reported, Activity Intensifying

A new influenza death is among the more than 600 flu cases reported last week.

An 83-year-old San Diego man died Feb. 5, the County Health and Human Services Agency reported today. He had underlying medical conditions.

Additionally, a total of 616 lab-confirmed flu cases were reported the week ending Feb. 13, more than double the number from the previous week when 266 cases were diagnosed.

“Influenza activity in the region is intensifying though it is still below last year’s level,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “It is not too late to get vaccinated. The vaccine is safe and effective and very well matched with the strains of flu that are circulating this season.”

For the week ending Feb. 13, 2016 (Week 6), the Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 6 percent of all visits (up from 5 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 616 (up from 266 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 6 (compared to 66 last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 1,812 (compared to 5,484 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 vaccine every year. The vaccine is safe and effective. It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop.

This season’s flu vaccine offers protection against several strains of the flu including influenza A H3N2, pandemic H1N1-like, and influenza B strains.

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 your symptoms are under control
  • Pregnant women
  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live with or care for others who are at higher risk

Other Tips to Stay Healthy

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 Community Health Center or County public health center to get vaccinated. For a list of locations, visit sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.

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