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Flu Case Count Keeps Climbing

January 4, 2018

By Mario A. Cortez

After an unprecedented amount of lab-confirmed flu cases in San Diego County were recorded during the second-to-last week of 2017, the final calendar week of 2017 had even more reported cases and deaths.

According to the County of San Diego’s Health and Human Services’ Influenza Watch, 3,334 lab confirmed cases were registered during the 52nd week of 2017. One week before, 2,338 lab confirmed cases were recorded. Lab-confirmed influenza cases now total 7,314.

The final week of 2017 had more lab-confirmed flu cases than the overall totals for the 2007-08, 2008-09, and 2011-12 flu seasons. Authorities attribute the high detection numbers by officials to a notably severe influenza season being underway as well as improvements in testing and detection for influenza.

Recorded deaths also had a significant spike. The final calendar week of 2017 had 34 deaths recorded. This increase represents an increase of 500 percent compared to the six deaths from flu-related symptoms were recorded in San Diego County a week prior.

Among the recorded deaths is an one-year old infant who died on Dec. 31.

“The death of a child is very unfortunate. Our sympathy goes out to the family for their tragic loss,” said Sayone Thihalolipavan, County deputy public health officer through a press release. “We are seeing a very high number of flu deaths and cases. Sick people should stay home to avoid infecting others at work, in school or in public places. People should not shake hands, share food or drinks, or kiss if they are sick.”

Emergency room visits for flu-like symptoms also increased and accounted for 13 percent of all visits to said services in final week of 2017.

FLU SHOTS RECOMMENDED

The alarming numbers recorded during the current flu season have lead health officials to urge local residents once again to vaccinate themselves against the flu.

“The number of flu cases that were reported last week is the highest in a single week that we have seen in recent years. We urge the public to get vaccinated against the flu,” Thihalolipavan said.

Flu vaccines are available throughout San Diego County at retail pharmacies, County public health centers, and doctors’ offices.

As is commonly advised, health officials recommended anyone six-months or older be vaccinated, especially pregnant women, senior citizens, and people with chronic health conditions.

About 166 million flu vaccines are projected to be available this season throughout the United States.

PREVENTION IS KEY

Preventing the spread of the influenza virus is simple with the right precautions.

Health experts recommend cleaning surfaces with lots of traffic, washing hands thoroughly and often, staying away from sick people, and avoiding contact with the eye, nose, and mouth.

People who are sick are advised to stay at home and to avoid contact with others if possible.

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