Five more flu-related deaths were reported in San Diego last week, health officials confirmed Thursday, bringing the total number of deaths this season to 44.
By this same time last year, 12 people had died from the flu in the county.
The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) said influenza activity has reached a new high this season. People aged 31 to 98 years old have died from the flu. The HHSA said the 31-year-old man had no underlying medical conditions.
Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer, said for those with underlying health conditions, influenza can be deadly. This is why health officials recommend getting a flu vaccine, as it is considered the best protection against the illness.
Health officials recommend an annual flu shot; after the vaccination, it takes two weeks for immunity to develop, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The vaccination is especially recommended for those at high-risk of experiencing complications with the flu, including people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women and people age 65 and older.
The HHSA’s latest “Influenza Watch” report, from the week ending on Feb. 11, says six percent of all emergency department visits in San Diego were patients experiencing flu-like symptoms.
There were 555 lab-confirmed cases of influenza for the week, up from the 379 the week prior.
To date, there have been 3,335 lab-confirmed cases of the flu in San Diego. Last year at this time, there were 1,939.
Flu season in the U.S. occurs between December and May.
For a list of county public health centers where you can get a flu shot, click here or call 211.