Flu Cases Continue Rise; Total Far Below Last Year’s

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Jan 13, 2016 (COUNTY NEWS CENTER) For the third week in a row, the number of flu cases continued to rise in San Diego; however, influenza activity is still at expected levels for this time of year, the County Health and Human Services Agency reported today.

A total of 98 lab-confirmed cases of influenza were reported during the week ending Jan. 9, a 34 percent increase from the week before that when 64 cases were reported.

“The worst of the flu season is coming. People should get vaccinated to avoid getting sick,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer.

For the week ending Jan. 9, 2016, the Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 5 percent of all visits (up from 4  percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 98 (up from 64 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 3 (compared to 6 last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 400 (compared to 1,514 last season)

On a positive note, the number of flu cases reported this season is nearly four times lower compared to the same time last year. County health officials caution that people should not become complacent and should continue taking preventive measures to avoid getting the flu.

“The lower number of cases could be the result of the flu vaccine being effective against the flu viruses circulating this year,” Wooten added. “However, the flu is very unpredictable and it’s too early to tell how severe this flu season is going to be.”

Your Best Shot Against the Flu

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every year. The vaccine is safe and effective. It takes about 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 your symptoms are under control
  • Pregnant women
  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live with or care for others who are at higher risk

Other Tips to Stay Healthy

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 Community Health Center or County public health center to get vaccinated. For a list of locations, visit www.sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.

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