First flu deaths reported in San Diego County - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

First flu deaths reported in San Diego County

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Two women at a nursing home became the San Diego area's first fatalities of "flu season," a county health agency spokesman said Wednesday.

An 88-year-old woman died of influenza-related causes Sunday, and an 85-year-old woman with the flu died Tuesday, according to the Health and Human Services Agency. Both had underlying medical conditions.

"These deaths are very unfortunate and remind us that influenza, or flu, can be a serious and deadly disease," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer.

"People who have not gotten a flu shot yet this season should do it now to reduce their risk of getting sick."

Last year, 70 people died of the flu in the region, making the flu season the worst since the HHSA started tracking the disease. Flu-related deaths recorded by the county in 2013 totaled 65.

The infection rate this year is outpacing last year. According to agency data, 919 cases have been confirmed to date, compared to 535 at the same time last year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu shots annually for everyone who is at least 6-months-old.

Vaccination is more important for people with weakened immune systems, as well as those who are pregnant, elderly or live with or care for others at a high risk.

Other suggestions for staying healthy include washing hands often, using hand sanitizers, staying away from sick people, avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth; cleaning commonly touched surfaces.

Flu vaccines are available at doctors' offices and pharmacies. Those without medical insurance can go to a county public health center to get vaccinated. A list of locations is available at www.sdiz.org or by calling 211.

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