Health

San Diego Influenza Cases Increase

woman blowing her nose Image Credit: PhotoSpin

The number of lab-confirmed influenza cases reported locally last week jumped by nearly 70%, a sign that flu activity in the region is increasing, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

A total of 489 flu cases were reported in San Diego County last week, 198 more than the previous week when 291 influenza cases were recorded.

“This is the time of the season when we start to see influenza activity increase significantly,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Get your flu shot now to avoid getting sick.”

According to Wooten, flu vaccination is especially important around the holidays when people stay indoors and gather in large groups, increasing the risk of getting sick.

To date, 1,709 flu cases have been reported locally this year, compared to 932 at the same time last season.

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 Dec. 14, 2019, the Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 4% of all visits (the same as the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 489 (compared to 291 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 7 (compared to 6 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 1,709 (compared to 932 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