Flu shot
Courtesy County News Center

More than 20,000 lab-confirmed flu cases have been reported this season, the highest total since the County of San Deigo Health and Human Services Agency began tracking the virus 20 years ago.

A total of 247 new flu cases were reported last week, bringing this season’s total to 20,131, according to the latest County Influenza Watch report.

The number of weekly cases being reported continues to be elevated for this time of year, officials said.

With another seven influenza-related deaths reported last week, this season’s total now stands at 326. San Diegans who died from flu this season range in age from 1 to 101, and almost all had underlying medical conditions, the county reported.

Forty-two (13 percent) of the deaths were people under 65 years old, which are the only cases public health agencies are required to report in California. The county informs the public about all flu deaths.

“This is the highest number of flu-deaths and cases that has been reported since we began tracking the disease,” said Wilma Wooten M.D., M.P.H., county public health officer. “The high number is the result of an unusually severe flu season but also due to better reporting and tracking by the local medical community and the County.”

Emergency department visits of patients with flu-like symptoms remained at 2 percent, the same as last week and a level that is expected for this time of the year. The peak of 13 percent was reported in late December.

For the week ending March 31, 2018, the County Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:

Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 3 percent of all visits (compared to 3 percent the previous week)
Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 247 (compared to 400 the previous week)
Total influenza deaths to date: 326 (compared to 80 at this time last season)
Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 20,131 (compared to 5,203 last season)

Officials said it’s not too late for a flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated.

The flu vaccine is available at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies. County public health centers are also offering vaccinations. For a list of locations, visit www.sdiz.org or call 2-1-1 San Diego.