Flu hitting later and spreading faster this year - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Flu hitting later and spreading faster this year

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An 83-year-old San Diego man who died of influenza- related causes 13 days ago was the region's sixth fatality during this "flu season,'' according to county health officials.

The victim, who already had a medical problem, died Feb. 5, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.

The death was reported at a time when the rate of flu infections is climbing. Last week, more than 600 cases were reported by the HHSA, the most during flu season and more than double that of the week before.

"Influenza activity in the region is intensifying though it is still below last year's level,'' said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer. "It is not too late to get vaccinated. The vaccine is safe and effective and very well-matched with the strains of flu that are circulating this season.''

So far, just over 1,800 local cases of influenza have been confirmed via laboratory testing, compared to almost 5,500 at this time last year. The six fatal cases this year compare to 66 at this point in 2015.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu shots annually for everyone 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 high risk.

Other suggestions for staying healthy include frequent hand-washing, using hand sanitizers, staying away from sick people, avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth, and 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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