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San Diego flu deaths reach 86, cases winding down

Only one of the deaths occurred last week, and all the people who died had underlying medical conditions.
Credit: KFMB / County of San Diego Communications Office

SAN DIEGO — Six additional influenza deaths were reported last week, bringing this season’s total to 86, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced Wednesday.

Only one of the deaths occurred last week, and all the people who died had underlying medical conditions.

The number of lab-confirmed cases continued to drop last week when 637 reports were received. That’s 135 fewer cases than the prior week.

“Influenza appears to be declining, but people should continue getting vaccinated as the flu could last until April or May,” said Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The vaccine is safe and effective and the best tool we have to prevent influenza.”

The County Health and Human Services Agency publishes the Influenza Watch weekly report, which tracks key flu indicators and summarizes influenza surveillance in the region.

For the week ending March 7, 2020, the report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 5% of all visits (compared to 5% the previous week).
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 86 (compared to 46 at this time last season).
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 19,317 (compared to 6,675 last season).

How to Prevent the Flu

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop.

Flu 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 aged 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 211 San Diego.