On Wednesday, San Diego County health officials announced the first flu-related death this flu season. 25 states are reporting widespread flu activity. NBC 7’s Vanessa Herrera has an update on this year’s flu situation.
A 51-year-old San Diego man has died from complications with the flu, according to the County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA.) It’s the first flu-related death in the county this flu season.
According to HHSA, the man died Jan 2. He had Influenza A on top of existing medical conditions.
Meantime, the county is seeing an increase in flu cases for the 2013-2014 flu season compared to 2012-2013. Officials said flu-related visits to local emergency rooms are up 8 percent from last week.
Sharp ER Doctor Robert Patel said the emergency room is seeing about 30 patients more each day compared to a normal day.
“It seems like the flu has suddenly hit San Diego County these last couple weeks,” Patel said.
According to HHSA, eight out of 10 flu cases in San Diego were caused the H1N1 strain. H1N1 is also the predominant strain across the country this flu season. Also known as swine flu, H1N1 became a household word during a worldwide pandemic in 2009.
However, “there is no reason for panic or anxiety here. H1N1 has been with us since the pandemic,” County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten explained.
Wooten said the best way to avoid the flu is to get a flu shot. The current flu vaccine protects against H1N1, Influenza A, H3N2 and Influenza B.
Dr. Patel recommends seeing a doctor as soon as someone starts to feel flu symptoms, including a sudden onset of fever, body aches, chills and coughing.
“If your symptoms are going on for too long, certainly someone should see you, either your doctor or us,” Patel added.
Health officials said young people, people over 65, people with compromised immune systems and pregnant women are most at-risk for flu complications.
Flu season usually begins in the fall and peaks in January or February, according to flu.gov.
For information on where to get a flu shot, click here.