Flu deaths, reported cases outpacing last year

SAN DIEGO — The number of flu-related deaths in the San Diego region reached four after a 92-year-old man died on November 11, county health officials reported Wednesday.

The man died of influenza A on Veterans Day, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency. At the same point last year, one person had died.

The rate of infection was also up — 133 laboratory-confirmed cases reported last week compared to 58 the week before. The total number of cases was up to 574, compared to 174 at this time last year, according to the HHSA.

“The number of flu deaths and cases being reported this year continues to outpace the totals from the last season,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “The flu can be deadly, especially for vulnerable populations. The best protection against the flu is getting vaccinated.”

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.