By José A. Álvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office
An otherwise healthy, 32-year-old man from North County and a 27-year-old man from South County who had underlying medical conditions are among eight new influenza deaths reported last week, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.
The North County man died on Jan. 13 from influenza A. The 27-year-old, the youngest county resident to die from the flu this season, died Jan. 9 from influenza A Pandemic H1N1.
The ages of the other six flu fatalities range from 46 to 85 years of old and five had underlying medical conditions. The new flu deaths bring this season’s total to 24. In comparison, 174 flu deaths had been reported at the same time last year.
“Healthy young people should not be dying from influenza. That’s why it’s so important to get vaccinated,” said Sayone Thihalolipavan, M.D., M.P.H., County deputy public health officer. “If you have not gotten a flu shot, do it now.”
Typically, the Pandemic H1N1 virus sickens younger people more than others because younger and middle-aged adults have not been exposed to the H1N1 virus as much as older adults, and these groups typically have the lowest vaccination rates in the nation.
The County Health and Human Services Agency publishes the weekly Influenza Watch report, which tracks key flu indicators and summarizes influenza surveillance in the region. All other indicators are at expected levels for this time of year.
For the week ending Jan. 19, 2019, the Influenza Watch report shows the following:
•Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 4 percent of all visits (compared to 5 percent the previous week) •Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 461 (compared to 506 the previous week)
•Total influenza deaths to date: 24 (compared to 174 at this time last season) •Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 3,097 (compared to 13,644 at this time last season)
How to Prevent the Flu
CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. The vaccine is safe and effective. It takes 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 symptoms are under control
•People 65 years and older
•People who live with or care for others who are at higher risk
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, community clinics, and retail pharmacies. If you don’t have medical insurance, you can go to a County public health center to get vaccinated. For a list of locations, visit www.sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.
José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office