SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Eleven influenza-related deaths were confirmed last week in San Diego County, bringing the number of fatalities so far this flu season to 50, compared to 24 at this time last year, the Health and Human Services Agency reported Wednesday.
The ages of the patients ranged from 53 to 80, and all had underlying medical conditions, according to the HHSA.
The total number of cases dropped for the second week in a row, indicating the flu season might be easing down, according to Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. The county logged 1,702 cases last week, compared to 1,884 the week before, but Wooten warned against complacency.
"Of the 11 influenza deaths reported last week, only two occurred last week," she said. "The fact that flu cases continued to decline could be a sign that influenza has peaked in San Diego. However, the flu is very unpredictable, and we could see case increases in the weeks to come."
The seasonal total of influenza cases is now 13,569. Last flu season saw 3,938 by this time and 9,655 in total.
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;
- severe or persistent vomiting; or
- 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.