San Diego, California - Eight more flu deaths were reported last week and influenza activity in the region remained steady, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced.

The new reported flu deaths include a 33-year-old San Diego woman, bringing this season’s total 334. Those who died ranged in age from 1 to 101, and almost all had underlying medical conditions. Forty-three (13 percent) of the deaths were of people under 65 years old, which are the only cases public health agencies are required to report in California. The County informs the public about all flu deaths. The high number of deaths is the result of an unusually severe flu season but also due to better reporting and tracking by the local medical community and the County.

The 264 lab-confirmed flu cases reported last week reflect a slight increase from the 257 cases recorded the week before. However, emergency department visits of patients with flu-like symptoms dropped from 3 percent to 2 percent during the same period. The peak in emergency room visits for flu was 13 percent in late December.

“Unfortunately, influenza-related deaths are still being reported, a sign that the flu continues to take a toll on the region,” said Wilma Wooten M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “While influenza activity persists, people should continue taking precautions to avoid getting sick, especially getting vaccinated.”

For the week ending April 7, 2018, the County Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 2 percent of all visits (compared to 3 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 264 (compared to 257 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 334 (compared to 82 at this time last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 20,404 (compared to 5,292 last season)

It’s Not Too Late for a Flu Shot

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated. The vaccine is safe and effective. It takes two weeks for immunity to develop.

Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk of developing serious complications from influenza. They include:

  • People with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and lung disease, even if symptoms are under control
  • Pregnant women
  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live with or care for others who are at higher risk

In addition to getting vaccinated, people should also do the following to avoid getting sick:

  • Wash hands thoroughly and often
  • Use hand sanitizers
  • Stay away from sick people
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Clean commonly touched surfaces
  • If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others

The flu vaccine is available at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies. If you don’t have medical insurance, you can go to a County public health center to get vaccinated. For a list of locations, visit https://www.sdiz.org  or call 2-1-1 San Diego.