Two people died from influenza in San Diego County last week, while the number of diagnosed cases continues to slow, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported today.
With three other fatalities earlier last month, the overall “flu season” death toll in the region stands at 48, the second-worst on record, according to the HHSA.
The 58 deaths reported during the 2009-10 H1N1 pandemic remains the worst.
All but one of the victims had an underlying medical condition, according to the agency.
The number of diagnosed influenza cases — 273 — was down for the fifth week in a row, according to HHSA officials, who said a total of 4,798 lab- confirmed diagnoses have been reported.
“Reports of influenza deaths typically come after influenza activity has peaked,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “We are seeing a higher number of influenza deaths because a more severe strain of influenza — H3N2 — has been circulating this season.”
She said it isn’t too late to get a flu vaccine.
The people at highest risk for complications include the elderly, pregnant women, infants and people with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes or a compromised immune system.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months or older should get a flu vaccine every year unless they’re allergic to it.
The HHSA said it takes about two weeks for immunity to develop after getting vaccinated.
The vaccine is available throughout San Diego County at doctor offices and retail pharmacies. County public health centers have flu vaccine available for children and adults with no medical insurance.
In addition to getting the vaccine, the HHSA recommends that people wash their hands thoroughly and often, use hand sanitizers, stay away from sick people, avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth, and clean commonly touched surfaces.
Those who are sick should stay home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and avoid contact with others.