Health

San Diego Flu Cases Much Higher Than Last Year

More than 600 influenza cases have been reported in the region this season, nearly 2 ½ times the number that had been reported at the same time last year, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

An additional 139 lab-confirmed influenza cases were reported in San Diego County last week, bringing this season’s total to 614. In comparison, 57 flu cases were reported during the same week last season for a total of 247 cases at the same time last year.

“Given the numbers that we’re seeing, it’s evident that more San Diegans are getting sick,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “And with the holidays upon us, those figures are likely to continue to increase since people will be out and about in large groups.”

Local health officials continue to urge San Diegans to get vaccinated, especially the elderly, young children, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.

“Get vaccinated now to avoid getting sick and making others ill,” Wooten added.

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

For the week ending Nov. 16, 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: 139 (compared to 74 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 3 (compared to 2 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 614 (compared to 247 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. It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop.

Flu 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 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 211 San Diego.

 

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