SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Six people died of influenza-related causes in the San Diego region last week, bringing the total for "flu season" to seven, the county Health and Human Services Agency announced Wednesday.
Each of the victims tested positive for the Pandemic H1N1 strain of influenza and only one of them is known to have had a recent flu shot. They ranged in age from 35 to 80 years old, and all had underlying medical conditions, the HHSA reported.
Last season, 65 flu-related deaths were reported in San Diego County.
The HHSA said 677 lab-confirmed cases of the flu were reported in the area last week, as the infection rate continued a sharp increase. The previous week, 361 cases were reported.
So far during flu season, 1,391 cases have been confirmed, according to the county health agency.
"Although influenza activity in San Diego has greatly increased over the past month, it's not too late to get immunized," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "The vaccine is the best protection against the flu. Influenza can be a serious and deadly disease, especially for the elderly and young infants, as well as for people with chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes."
Pandemic H1N1 is the primary strain of the flu found in San Diego during this season, which is similar to what's happening around the country, according to the HHSA. Many more young and middle-aged adults are being diagnosed with the illness compared to last year, the agency reported.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every year. The vaccine is especially important for people who are at higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu, including people with certain medical conditions, pregnant women, and people 65 years and older.
People can also avoid the flu by thorough and frequent hand washing; using hand sanitizers; staying away from sick people; refrain from touching the eyes, nose, and mouth; cleaning commonly touched surfaces; and if sick, staying home and avoiding contact with others.
The vaccine is available throughout San Diego County at doctors' offices and retail pharmacies.
County public health centers have the flu vaccine available for children and adults with no medical insurance. A list of locations is available online at www.sdiz.org, or calling 2-1-1.