SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Seven more influenza-related deaths were reported in the San Diego region last week, even though the rate of infections slowed, county health officials said Wednesday.
The fatalities bring the "flu season" toll to 79, above the 60 reported at this time last year, according to the Health and Human Services Agency.
Most of the victims have been senior citizens and all but three already suffered from medical conditions. The toll includes a 17-year-old North County girl who died last month.
A total of 130 influenza cases were reported last week, compared to 207 the previous week. In total, there have been nearly 5,100 flu cases confirmed by laboratory testing this flu season, compared to almost 5,675 at this time last year.
"It appears that influenza activity is winding down in the region," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "However, influenza is still present in the community and can cause illness throughout the year, so people should continue taking preventive measures to avoid getting sick."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu shots annually for everyone at least 6 months old. Vaccination is more important for people with weakened immune systems, as well as those who are pregnant, elderly or live with or care for others at high risk.
Other suggestions for staying healthy include frequent hand-washing, using hand sanitizers, staying away from sick people, avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth, and cleaning commonly touched surfaces.
Flu vaccines are available at doctors' offices and pharmacies. People without medical insurance can go to a county public health center to get vaccinated. A list of locations is available at www.sdiz.org or by calling 211.