SAN DIEGO (COUNTY NEWS CENTER) - Influenza deaths and cases went up last week and the number of emergency department visits due to influenza-like illness remained the same, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced Wednesday.
Six flu-related deaths were reported last week, bringing this season’s total to 308. San Diegans who died from flu this season range in age from 1 to 101, and almost all had underlying medical conditions. Forty (13 percent) of the deaths were of people 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.
A total of 682 lab-confirmed flu cases were reported last week, 64 more than the previous week when 620 cases were reported. Emergency department visits of patients with flu-like symptoms remained the same at 4 percent. The peak of 13 percent was reported in late December.
“The number of influenza cases being reported is still elevated, a sign that the flu is still here and making people sick,” said Wilma Wooten M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “People should continue getting vaccinated.”
Due to continued elevated influenza activity in the county, Wooten is extending—until April 30—the order for unvaccinated health care personnel to wear a mask while they’re in patient care areas. If influenza activity remains elevated, a further extension may be required.
For the week ending March 17, 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 4 percent the previous week)
- Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 684 (compared to 620 the previous week)
- Total influenza deaths to date: 308 (compared to 72 at this time last season)
- Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 19,483 (compared to 4,956 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.