A second San Diegan has died as a result of the flu in a flu season moving at a faster pace than the year prior, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced Wednesday.
The 100-year-old woman, who had pre-existing medical conditions, died on Oct. 19; she tested positive for influenza A. She is the second person to die as a result of the flu.
In the past week, there have been 31 new flu cases reported, bringing the total to 316 cases. Two of those were ICU cases.
“Influenza can lead to serious complications and even death, especially among the elderly,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer, in a statement. “The best protection against the flu is getting vaccinated. Do it now before the flu starts to spread.”
Health officials have warned of a potentially miserable flu season this year since the Southern Hemisphere was hit. In the past few months, there has been a flu strain going around Australia that's notorious for causing more severe sickness.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials told the Associated Press there's a chance the U.S. could have a similar season to Australia.
Every year, the flu is estimated to cause millions of illnesses, said California Department of Public Health (CDPH) officials. That includes tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths.
Flu outbreaks are possible as early as October, but influenza usually peaks between December and February.
The annual flu vaccine helps protect people from the flu. Health officials recommend that everyone six months of age and older take the vaccine.
High-risk groups for flu complications include pregnant women, children under 2 years of age, adults aged 65 and older and nursing home residents, according to the CDPH.
In an effort to stop the flu's spread, health officials also encouraged residents to stay home when sick, cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue or sleeve, wash hands thoroughly and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth.
For the previous week, the Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch reports the following:
• Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 1 percent of all visits (the same as the previous week)
• Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 31 (up from 27 the previous week)
• Total influenza deaths to date: 2 (compared to 1 at this time last season)
• Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 316 (compared to 103 at same time last season)
The CDPH's influenza web page offers more information about the flu.