San Diego flu cases jump significantly; 5 deaths reported

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SAN DIEGO — The number of influenza cases reported in the San Diego region jumped last week and included the fifth fatality of “flu season,” county health officials reported Wednesday.

The tally of flu cases was already running well ahead of 2016, but 563 cases were confirmed by laboratory testing last week, compared to 227 the week before, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.

The flu season total is now 1,646, compared to 451 at a similar point last year.

The HHSA said the latest fatality was of a 91-year-old man who was already suffering from a medical condition. There were four deaths at this time last year.

“Flu activity has been accelerating over the past three weeks and more people could get sick,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “Get vaccinated now before the worst of the flu season gets here.”

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.