- Category: Health
- Created on Saturday, 19 January 2013 21:03
San Diego, California - Another four county residents have died from influenza, bringing the number of deaths reported this flu season to six, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced.
The number of people sick with influenza is also on the rise in the region. In the week ending Jan. 12, a total of 311 local flu cases were reported, more than double the number of cases reported the prior week, which had 142 cases. A total of 670 flu cases have been reported so far this season. Emergency departments are also seeing more patients with flu-like illnesses. They make up six percent of all visits, which is the expected level during the flu season but still an increase of a two-to-three percent from prior weeks.
“The best protection against the flu is to be vaccinated. It is not too late to do it,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “There is available vaccine for those who want to be immunized.
“Influenza can be a serious and deadly disease, especially for the elderly and young infants, as well as for people with chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes,” said Wooten, adding that last season 14 people died locally from influenza.
Most people who become ill will not need medical attention and should recuperate at home. If symptoms do not improve or become worse, individuals should seek medical attention from their doctor or urgent care provider, but not an emergency department.
“Emergency departments should only be used by people who are severely ill,” Wooten said. “People should go to an emergency department if they are having difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, or have flu-like symptoms that improve but then become worse.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine every year. The vaccine is especially important for people who are at higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu, including people with certain medical conditions, pregnant women, and people 65 years and older.
This season’s flu vaccine offers protection against Influenza A H3N2, Pandemic H1N1-like, and Influenza B strains; it is well matched for the viruses that are circulating. The vaccine is available throughout San Diego County at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies. County public health centers have flu vaccine available for children and adults with no medical insurance. For a list of locations, visit www.sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.
Additional tips to prevent the flu: wash your hands thoroughly and often, use hand sanitizers, stay away from sick people, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth and clean commonly touched surfaces. If you are sick, stay home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and avoid contact with others.