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Elevated Flu Activity Continues In San Diego County

December 14, 2017 1:13 p.m.

Elevated Flu Activity Continues In San Diego

GUEST:

Dr. Wilma Wooten, public health officer, San Diego County

Related Story: Elevated Flu Activity Continues In San Diego County

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

San Diego county is seeing a outbreak of flu earlier than normal. The number of diagnosed cases is three times higher than at the same time last year. Across the country health officials are bracing for what could be a difficult flu year with a longer season and serious strain of flu virus. Joining me is Dr. Wilma Wooten , public health officer. Welcome to the program.
>> Thank you for having me.
>> When two cases of the flu generally start to pick up in send Eagle County?
>> Well, the flu season is from October 2 the end of March and in recent years, the flu season has extended longer into April and sometimes may. Typically from the beginning of October to the end of March. With the peak occurring at different times, when I first I working for the county, the peak was at the end of December beginning of January and now the end of January beginning February. That varies from the year.
>> How many confirmed flu cases have we seen so far?
>> We've had a total of over 1000 total cases that have been reported to the county. I think it's important for listeners to know that influenza is not reportable . This is the tip of the iceberg. There are many individuals that might get the flu who never see a doctor or never tested or writes out the infection -- right smack -- what we are using is the number of our detections are cases of flu that had been reported to other years. When we do that, it's about three times the number of cases that have been reported so far are three times what had been reported last year and even in the three-year average where we analyze the data over a three-year period of time.
>> The track the number of cases each week and are going up each week?
>> That is correct but we've been seeing the increased number or elevated level of new influenza detections reported to the county.
>> Had there been flu related deaths so far this year?
>> So far we've had four deaths this year compared to three at the same time the same time -- at the same time last year.
>> They look at Australia and it is not good news. They've had a rough season fighting a strain called H3N2.
>> It depends upon -- usually the strains are dependent upon viruses that occur in the prior flu season in the southern hemisphere. There's always a -- it depends on the strain of that. That was the most common virus that we saw last year was that flu. In the vaccines now we have two influenza -- influenza. One is a H1 and one Friday and the other is a different variety.
>> Are we hoping for better results here in the U.S.?
>> Time will tell. We don't have any evidence that the effect of this is that low for the U.S. as of yet. The CDC collects samples from all over the country and does desk conducts those additional testing to look at the effectiveness. I think about two or three years ago, we did have evidence and research showed that the current vaccine was only 10% effective for the circulating virus. That was 13 and 14. Research shows with that though effectiveness rate, that is better than nothing and it helps to make sure that it helps with ensuring that there is not an extreme devastation of the influenza. So even with 10% it can be effective with Marshall control circulating influenza infections.
>> Who is most at risk of getting the flu and is it too late to get vaccinated?
>> It's never too late to get vaccinated. Those individuals that have the greatest risk from complications are the very young or very old. Particular individuals that are 65 years of age and older. For the very young children that are less than two years of age. The CDC recommendations is at all individuals six months of age and older should get a vaccination and for children, if they never been vaccinated before, it is required that they get two vaccinations.
>> Before I let you go, I want to ask about hepatitis A. There were two more confirmed cases this week. No new deaths have been reported for several weeks.'s is a sign that the outbreak is slowing down?
>> This is definitely a positive evidence that we are seeing a significant downward trend of the hepatitis A cases and we will continue to monitor so we can determine when the outbreak is over and what institutional policies and procedures need to be in place to ensure that we don't have a resurgent of this infection.
>> I've been speaking with Dr. Wilma Wooten. Thank you very much .
>> Thank you.