SAN DIEGO — Health officials are busy this season seeing an unusual rise in illnesses. Cases of influenza, whooping cough and even measles are being reported at an alarming rate across San Diego County.
Recent reports of seasonal illnesses have health officials busy fielding calls and taking precautions, said Dr. James LaBelle, chief medical officer at Scripps Health.
In an effort to lower the risk of infection to patients and staff, Scripps has put visitor restrictions in place at its five hospital campuses in San Diego County.
“They’ll be screened, they’ll be asked who they’re going to visit,” LaBelle said. If they have symptoms of illness, they’ll be asked to not enter the facility for the safety of the patients.
Over 900 cases of influenza have been reported compared to over 500 last year. LaBelle said there are even more that are unreported in a season that is not close to being over.
“Lots of people showing up at the hospital sick enough to be admitted into the intensive care unit,” LaBelle said. “I believe county health officers say they’ve seen a doubling of cases over the past week week, so it’s going to continue to rise for the next couple or three weeks.”
Another illness making a comeback is whooping cough. Both California and San Diego are seeing the highest number of cases in more than 70 years. The state has so far reported over 10,000 cases, and county health officials said the final numbers will be even higher at the end of the season.
LaBelle said the best line of defense is common sense. Wash your hands, cover your cough, don’t go to work when you’re sick and get inoculated.
“Getting vaccinated now is still a really good way to try and prevent the spread of illness,” he said.