The number of San Diegans with lab-reported cases of influenza in the last week increased by 36% over the previous week, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency reported Wednesday.
For the week ending Saturday, a total of 154 lab-confirmed flu cases were reported in the region, compared to the prior week when 113 influenza infections were identified.
“Influenza activity in the region remains low, but we’re starting to see more cases locally,” Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer, said in a statement. “An annual flu vaccine is the best way to prevent serious illness from influenza.
“The influenza vaccine is readily available throughout San Diego,” she said. “Get vaccinated now before the flu spreads even more during the holidays and the winter months.”
The county’s seasonal total stands at 678 cases, while the five-year average for this time of year is 667. Last year at this time, the number of flu cases was just 40.
Every Wednesday during flu season, the Health and Human Services Agency publishes the Influenza Watch weekly report, which tracks key flu indicators and summarizes influenza surveillance in the region.
For the week ending Saturday, the agency reported that emergency department visits for influenza-like illness were 3% of all visits, down from 4% the previous week, while total influenza deaths to date were zero, the same as last season at this time.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. People with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, people age 65 and older and people who live with or care for others who are at higher risk are all more likely to get seriously sick from the flu.
It takes about two weeks after vaccination to develop protection against the virus.
The vaccine is available at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies and is covered by medical insurance. People with no health care coverage can get vaccinated at one of the county’s six public health centers or a local community clinic.
To find the nearest location, visit the county’s Flu Vaccine Locations page at sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/hhsa/programs/phs/immunization_branch/Vaccine_Pr eventable_Diseases/Seasonal_Influenza/Flu_Vaccine_Locations.html or call 211.
In addition to getting vaccinated, health officials said people should also do the following:
— wash hands thoroughly and often;
— use hand sanitizers;
— avoid sick people;
— avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
— clean commonly touched surfaces; and
— if sick, stay home and avoid contact with others.
Last season, 848 influenza cases were reported in San Diego County, including two deaths. In 2019, a total of 108 San Diegans died from influenza and more than 20,700 flu cases were reported.
–City News Service