Flu-related deaths in SD Co. rises to 43; number of diagnosed cases drops for fourth week

Agency: Latest victims were in their 80s

SAN DIEGO - Two people in the San Diego region died of influenza last week, but the number of diagnosed cases dropped for the fourth week in a row, the county Health and Human Services Agency announced Wednesday.

With a report of a third person having died of the illness earlier this month, the "flu season" total climbed to 43, the second-highest on record, below the 58 deaths from the H1N1 pandemic season of 2009-10, according to the HHSA.

The latest victims were in their 80s. The HHSA said all but one of the 43 fatalities involved underlying medical conditions.

The season total of cases rose to 4,515, with 276 diagnosed last week, according to the agency.

"While we believe the worst of the flu season may have passed, influenza is still making people sick," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "People should continue to get vaccinated and take preventive measures because the flu season is not over."

The people at highest risk for complications include the elderly, pregnant women, infants and people with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes or a compromised immune system.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months or older should get a flu vaccine every year unless they're allergic to it. The HHSA said it takes about two weeks for immunity to develop after getting vaccinated.

The vaccine is available throughout San Diego County at doctor offices and retail pharmacies. County public health centers have flu vaccine available for children and adults with no medical insurance.

In addition to getting the vaccine, the HHSA recommends that people wash their hands thoroughly and often, use hand sanitizers, stay away from sick people, avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth, and clean commonly touched surfaces. Those who are sick should stay home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and avoid contact with others.

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