County reports second death of flu season

SAN DIEGO — A 100-year-old woman died of influenza-related causes nearly two weeks ago, becoming the second fatality of “flu season,” the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency reported Wednesday.

The woman, who died Oct. 19, was already suffering from an unspecified medical condition before she contracted influenza, according to the HHSA.

The other fatality involved the Oct. 1 death of an 86-year-old man, who also had an underlying condition.

“Influenza can lead to serious complications and even death, especially among the elderly,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “The best protection against the flu is getting vaccinated. Do it now before the flu starts to spread.”

The HHSA also reported the number of laboratory-confirmed influenza cases was three times as high as last year at this time, 316 compared to 103.

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 http://www.sdiz.org or by calling 211.