Local flu death count rises to 32

Health

SAN DIEGO — A dozen influenza deaths were recorded in San Diego County last week, bringing the season’s total to 32, the Health and Human Services Agency reported Wednesday.

Twenty-four flu-related deaths had been confirmed at this time last year, health officials said.

The HHSA also recorded 2,292 local lab-confirmed cases last week compared to 487 cases reported in the county during the same week last year, when the season-to-date total was 3,130. The 9,919 cases reported to date this season now exceed the 9,655 cases detected in all of last season, according to health officials.

“The number of deaths and cases being reported are a sign that influenza is not easing up,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “Vaccination is the best defense we have against the flu. People who have not gotten immunized should do it now.”

The latest 12 influenza deaths included a 34-year-old woman from East County who died from influenza A and had underlying medical conditions, according to the HHSA.

County health officials are encouraging people who are sick to first contact their health care provider by telephone or arrange an urgent appointment, but to go to an emergency department if they have any of the following symptoms:

  • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • chest pain or abdominal pain
  • sudden dizziness
  • confusion
  • severe or persistent vomiting
  • flu-like symptoms that appear to get better, but then return with a fever and worse cough

County health officials and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly advise the annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older, especially in demographics with a heightened risk of serious complications, such as pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and lung disease, and people age 65 or older.

Residents can take precautions against contracting the virus by frequent hand washing, cleaning commonly touched surfaces, avoiding contact with sick people, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

The flu vaccine is available at local doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies and the county’s public health centers. A full list of locations offering flu shots can be found at the county’s immunization website, sdiz.org, or by calling 211 for the county’s health hotline.

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