Influenza Activity Going Up

January 7, 2013 | 11:10am
Do you have fever, aches and pains? It could be influenza, commonly known as flu.

As is happening in other parts of the country, influenza activity in San Diego is on the rise, albeit still within the expected levels for this time of year.

Eighty-one influenza cases were reported in San Diego county during the week ending December 29, two and a half times more than the total from the week prior when only 30 flu cases were reported, according to the County Health and Human Services Agency.

“Influenza activity is definitely rising and people should take precautions to avoid getting sick,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., county public health officer. “The best protection against the flu is to get vaccinated. It is not too late to be immunized.”

County health officials are encouraging everyone to be immunized to protect themselves and their loved ones against the flu.

A total of 218 influenza cases had been reported through Dec. 29 this flu season, which started July 1. The total includes the death of an 89-year-old woman.

Influenza can be a serious and deadly disease, especially for the elderly and young infants, as well as for people with chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes. Last flu season, 14 people in the county died from complications of influenza.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 6-months and older should get a flu vaccine every year. The vaccine is especially recommended for people who are at higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu, including people with certain medical conditions, pregnant women, and people 65 years and older.

The vaccine, which is safe and effective, comes in two forms. People can get a shot or use the nasal vaccine. The nasal spray formulation is only recommended for healthy individuals from 2 through 49 years old who are not pregnant.

In addition to getting vaccinated, there are other things people can do to avoid getting the flu.

“Simple steps can  reduce your risk for the flu: wash your hands thoroughly and often, or use hand sanitizers; stay away from sick people; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; and routinely clean commonly touched surfaces,” added Wooten. “Also, if you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with others.”

The vaccine is available throughout San Diego County at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies. County public health centers have flu vaccine available for children and adults with no medical insurance. For a list of locations, visit www.sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.