Health Officials Urge Flu Shot As H1N1 Rises In San Diego County

Tuesday, January 7, 2014
By Susan Murphy

Influenza is on the rise across San Diego County and health officials are urging people, especially young adults, to get vaccinated.

More than 80 percent of reported flu cases have been H1N1— the same strain that caused a worldwide pandemic in 2009.

So far this season, 357 flu cases have been reported in the county, with nearly half documented in the last reporting period on Dec. 28, according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.

"The number of cases that were reported were one-and-a-half times higher than the numbers at the same time for our previous flu season," San Diego County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said.

The increase of flu cases is not uncommon for this time of the year, and the rate of spread is within expected levels, she added.

"But based on the information that we’ve received so far, in terms of the number of reported cases, the numbers are increasing earlier this year than last year," Wooten said.

There have been no reported deaths, but 10 people under the age of 65 were hospitalized in intensive care.

Wooten said just like in 2009, H1N1 is targeting young and middle-aged adults.

"We anticipate that the deaths might be seen again more in the younger age group compared to the over 65 as we’ve normally seen in past years," Wooten said.

Wooten said the good news is the flu vaccine is effective against H1N1, and it’s not too late to get vaccinated.

Flu symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.

"The vast majority of people who become infected with influenza need only to stay at home and take care of their symptoms supportively," Wooten said.

People with underlying medical conditions, such as heart disease and respiratory problems, should see a doctor right away, Wooten added.

Last year, 5,300 influenza cases were reported in San Diego County and 65 people died.

"H3N2 was the strain that was circulating last year and that causes more severe infection than the H1N1," Wooten said.