'Flu season' death toll rises to 39 in San Diego - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

'Flu season' death toll rises to 39 in San Diego

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The number of influenza cases and deaths related to the disease rose last week, bringing the "flu season" death toll in the San Diego region to 39, county health officials reported today.

After a couple of weeks in which lab confirmed influenza cases declined, the figure rose last week to 361, over 70 more than the prior week. Six deaths were reported last week, compared to a dozen the week before, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.

Most of the victims were seniors with pre-existing medical conditions, although one was as young as 36, according to the HHSA. Ten people had died of flu-related causes at this point last year.

In the entire 2014-15 flu season, 97 people died.

"Influenza can be very unpredictable and case counts can go up or down from one week to the next," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "That's why it's important for people to get vaccinated and to take other preventive measures."

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. People 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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