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San Diego Flu Cases Reach New High This Season

A sign tells customers that they can get a flu shot in a Walgreen store is se...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: A sign tells customers that they can get a flu shot in a Walgreen store is seen in Indianapolis, Sept. 16, 2014.

After a few weeks of declining influenza infections in the San Diego region, the number shot up to 555 last week, the highest total yet during "flu season," county health officials reported Thursday.

The previous high for laboratory confirmed influenza cases in a single week was 474 in the first seven days of January, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.

The HHSA said more than 3,300 cases have been diagnosed during "flu season," compared to about 1,900 at this time last year.

"Influenza continues to be widespread in the region," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "Vaccination is the best protection against the flu."

Also last week, five additional deaths from influenza-related causes were reported, bringing the total this season to 44. At this time last year, there were 12 fatalities in the region.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu shots annually for everyone at least 6 months old. Vaccination is more important for people with weakened immune systems, as well as those who are pregnant, elderly or live with or care for others at high risk.

Other suggestions for staying healthy include frequent hand-washing, using hand sanitizers, staying away from sick people, avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth, and cleaning commonly touched surfaces.

Flu vaccines are available at doctors' offices and pharmacies. People without medical insurance can go to a county public health center to get vaccinated. A list of locations is available at www.sdiz.org or by calling 211.

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