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San Diego’s Flu Season Still Going Strong; Hepatitis A Outbreak Not Over

A flu vaccine vial is shown in this undated photo.

Credit: San Diego County

Above: A flu vaccine vial is shown in this undated photo.

This flu season had a record 20,131 influenza cases and 326 deaths have been confirmed by San Diego's Health and Human Services Agency.

"No one knows really why this season is so much more severe than other seasons," said Dr. Sayone Thihalolipavan, deputy public health officer for the County of San Diego.

Thihalolipavan said flu season in San Diego typically ends by March. Now in April, the county's latest report shows 247 new flu cases and seven more deaths.

RELATED: 11 Flu-Related Deaths Reported In San Diego County Last Week

"Especially earlier on the predominant strain of flu was one that is more deadlier," Thihalolipavan said. "And that was the H3N2 strain. Now currently we’re glad the predominant strain is the influenza type B or B strain, which is less likely to result in hospitalizations or deaths."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this year’s flu vaccine has been around 35 percent effective.

"If I could tell you I can give you something that’ll give you a third less chance of getting the flu, then definitely you should take it," Thihalolipavan said.

Health officials said they are unsure when the current flu season will end.

RELATED: San Diego County Flu Deaths Up To 308 This Season

Meantime, the county board of supervisors ended the hepatitis A health emergency in January, but the outbreak is still not over.

"We’ve seen about 9 cases this year so far I believe," Thihalolipavan said. "Unfortunately, mostly centralized in the North County area."

During the peak of the outbreak, San Diego was averaging around 80 hepatitis A cases a month. Since the outbreak started in November 2016, 20 people have died and 587 cases have been confirmed.

County health officials said San Diego's flu season is lasting longer than usual this year, and despite the hepatitis A public health emergency declared over, the outbreak is continuing.

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Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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