Health

Seasonal Flu Deaths Top 300 in San Diego

flu vaccine

Flu-related fatalities rose to 302 after 13 additional deaths were reported last week, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

San Diegans who died from flu this season ranged in age from 1 to 101, and almost all had underlying medical conditions. Thirty-eight  (13 percent) of the deaths were under 65 years old, which are the only cases public health agencies are required to report in California. The County informs the public about all flu deaths.

More flu deaths typically occur during a severe influenza season, which the county and the nation are still experiencing.

“The increased number of reported deaths is the result of the severe flu season we are having, but is also due to better surveillance methods, which allow the County to more easily identify and classify flu fatalities,” said Wilma Wooten M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Flu cases are still occurring throughout the region, so people should continue getting vaccinated and taking other preventive measures.”

There were 620 flu cases reported last week, compared to 722 the previous week. The percentage of visits to local emergency departments from people experiencing flu-like symptoms increased from 3 to 4 percent last week, but this was far below the peak of 13 percent reported in late December. The increase is another indicator that the flu virus is still circulating throughout the region.

For the week ending March 10, 2018, the County Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 4 percent of all visits (compared to 3 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 620 (compared to 722 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 302 (compared to 68 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 18,779 (compared to 4,751 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.

CDC also recommends that people should prevent the spread of germs and take antivirals when prescribed by a doctor. Some local pharmacies may be out of specific medications, but there is no national shortage of antivirals. Sick people should call around if their local pharmacy is out and send a family member or friend to pick up the medications to avoid exposing others to the virus.

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 San Diego.

 

 

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