Three More Flu Deaths Reported

– From San Diego County News Center

Three more influenza deaths were reported and the percentage of emergency department patients with influenza-like-illness increased in the third week of February, a sign of persistent influenza activity in the region.

However, the County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) also reported today a decline in the number of lab-confirmed flu cases for the fourth consecutive week.

Based on the latest Influenza Watch report, covering the week ending Feb. 23, HHSA reported the following:

  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 276
  • Influenza-like-illness at emergency departments during the week: 10 percent (8 percent last week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 43
  • Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 4,515

The three newly reported deaths ranged in age from 82 to 86 years. Only two actually died during the reporting week, while the third died earlier in February.

The 43 flu-related deaths this season are the second highest on record. San Diegans who have died this season have ranged in age from 42 to 99 years and all but one had underlying medical conditions. Fifty-eight deaths were reported during the 2009-2010 flu season.

“While we believe the worst of the flu season may have passed, influenza is still making people sick,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “People should continue to get vaccinated and take preventive measures because the flu season is not over.”

Influenza commonly affects the elderly, but pregnant women, infants, and people with chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or a compromised immune system are also at higher risk for complications.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months or older, who is not allergic to it, should get a flu vaccine every year. The vaccine is safe, effective, and available at many locations in the county. It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop after getting vaccinated.

The seasonal flu vaccine offers protection against Influenza A H3N2, Pandemic H1N1-like, and Influenza B strains. It is well matched for the viruses that are circulating, and has been determined by the CDC to be 62 percent effective.

The vaccine is available throughout San Diego County at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies. County public health centers have flu vaccine available for children and adults with no medical insurance. For a list of locations, visit 

www.sdiz.org

or call 2-1-1.

In addition to getting the vaccine, there are other precautions people can take to avoid getting sick: wash your hands thoroughly and often, use hand sanitizers, stay away from sick people, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth and clean commonly touched surfaces. If you are sick, stay home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and avoid contact with others.

   
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