A 12-month-old baby is one of 34 new flu deaths recently reported in San Diego, bringing this season’s total to 45, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.
The infant died Dec. 31, 2017. The ages of the deceased this flu season range from 1 to 100 years. All the people who died, for whom there is information available, had underlying medical conditions.
Also, 3,334 lab-confirmed flu cases were reported last week, bringing this season’s total to 7,314. The number of cases reported last week is higher than the overall total reported during the 2011-12, 2008-09 and 2007-08 flu seasons. This record number of cases reflects better testing and surveillance systems in the region and a more severe influenza season than in recent years.
Given the high number of deaths and cases, local health officials are urging people to stay home if they are sick and to stay away from sick people.
“The death of a child is very unfortunate. Our sympathy goes out to the family for their tragic loss,” said Sayone Thihalolipavan, M.D., M.P.H., County deputy public health officer. “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.”
For the week ending Dec. 30, 2017, the Health and Human Services Agency is reporting the following:
- Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 13 percent of all visits (compared to 7 percent the previous week)
- Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 3,334 (compared to 2,338 the previous week)
- Total influenza deaths to date: 45, which includes the baby’s death, even though it came a day after the reporting period. The total compares to 5 at this time last season.
- Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 7,314 (compared to 883 last season)
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 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
- Pregnant women
- 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 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.