Health

San Diego Flu Deaths Rise; Cases Up Significantly

Video by Andy Tolley

Flu deaths in San Diego County went up last week and the number of lab-confirmed cases skyrocketed.

According to the County Health and Human Services Agency, six additional flu deaths were reported last week, bringing this season’s total to 11. Four flu deaths had been reported at the same time last season.

Also, nearly 2,227 new flu cases were reported last week, raising this season’s total to 3,873, nearly 3,300 more cases than the 599 that had been reported at the same time last year.

“Influenza can be deadly, especially for the elderly and the very young,” said Sayone Thihalolipavan, M.D., M.P.H., County deputy public health officer. “The number of flu cases that were reported last week is the highest in a single week that we have seen in recent years. We urge the public to get vaccinated against the flu.”

For the week ending Dec. 23, 2017, the Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 7 percent of all visits (compared to 5 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 2,227 (compared to 563 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 11 (compared to 4 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 3,873 (compared to 599 last season)

It’s Not Too Late for a Flu Shot

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated. 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 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