SAN DIEGO - Five more people died of influenza in San Diego County last week, bringing the total number of deaths to 19 during this year's flu season, the Health and Human Services Agency announced Wednesday.
More than 2,000 cases of the illness have been diagnosed during flu season, amounting to a moderate total, the HHSA reported.
The fatality rate pales compared to 2009-10, when 58 people died in the San Diego area during the H1N1 pandemic. All but one victim this year had an underlying medical condition.
The HHSA said influenza is especially dangerous for the elderly, pregnant women and young infants, as well as for people with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or a compromised immune system.
"We have had mild flu seasons in the past two years, while this year has strains that are making people sicker," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer. "That is why it is extremely important that people get vaccinated to avoid getting sick."
Wooten said the flu season might last a few more months, so it is not too late to get vaccinated. Everyone over 6 months old who is not allergic to the vaccine should get immunized, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Most people who become ill will not need medical attention and should recuperate at home, Wooten said. 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, according to Wooten.
People should also wash their hands thoroughly and often, use hand sanitizers, stay away from sick people, clean commonly touched surfaces and avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth, according to Wooten. Those who are sick should stay home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and avoid contact with others, according to Wooten.