Health

No New Flu Deaths Reported; Cases Go Up

No new flu deaths were reported last week; however, the number of lab-confirmed influenza cases went up, a sign that the flu is still making San Diegans sick, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

To date, flu fatalities in San Diego County this season remain at 24. In comparison, 230 influenza deaths had been reported at the same time last year.

“Seeing no flu deaths reported over a two-week period is definitely good news, but influenza can be very unpredictable,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer.

Lab-confirmed flu cases went up by almost 100 last week when 450 cases were reported. In comparison, 842 influenza cases were reported during the same week last year.

The percentage of influenza-like illness at local emergency departments was 5 percent last week, the same as the week before.

“While we’re seeing less flu activity this season compared to last year, people should continue to get vaccinated,” Wooten said. “The best way to avoid getting sick is to get a flu shot.”

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 Feb. 2, 2019, the Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 5 percent of all visits (compared to 5 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 450 (compared to 363 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 24 (compared to 230 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 3,939 (compared to 15,098 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
  • 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