Flu death toll rises to 251 in San Diego

SAN DIEGO — San Diego County reported 20 more flu-related deaths last week, bringing the region’s season total to 251 fatalities.

The county Health and Human Services Agency announced the new tally on Wednesday.

Last week also brought another uptick in the total number of lab- confirmed cases. There were 941 cases last week, up from 835 the week before, which brought an end to a weeks-long downward trend in the number of cases.

“Influenza activity continues to be widespread and, unfortunately, more people are dying from the flu,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “People should continue getting vaccinated and taking other preventive measures to prevent getting sick.”

The predominant strain this season is H3N2, which has a more severe impact on the elderly and very young children. County health officials said 87 percent of deaths in the region this season have been those over the age of 65.

Wooten said while the use of detailed reporting systems contributes to high numbers compared to prior years and in other parts of the country, this continues to be one of the region’s worst flu seasons on record.

At this time last year, 44 deaths and 3,368 total confirmed cases had been tallied, compared to the  251 deaths and 16,078 cases this season.