County Supervisors To Review Flu Severity

Monday, January 8, 2018
By Alison St John
Credit: San Diego County
Above: A chart by the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency shows flu trends from 2008-2017, Jan. 8, 2018.

San Diego County supervisors will decide Tuesday whether to declare a state of emergency because of the severity of this year’s flu season. Last week saw a surge of reported cases in the final week of 2017 and now all eyes are on whether those numbers will continue to rise.

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The numbers are startling: more than 3,000 reported cases of the flu in the last week of 2017, bringing the total cases so far up to eight times as many cases as last year.

San Diego County reported in the latest count that 45 people have died, including 44 people over the age of 60 and a 1-year-old baby. That is nine times more people than last year. That is why this week’s update is crucial: county health officials were not sure last week whether the outbreak was peaking early or if the numbers would continue to rise. The flu typically peaks around February, but it did peak earlier during the 2009-2010 season.

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All but one of those who have died in San Diego this year were older than 60 and most had underlying health conditions.

Statewide, as of Friday, 27 people under the age of 65 have died so far this season, including a 7-year-old boy in San Bernardino County. That is compared with three deaths at this time last year. The state does not record deaths of people older than 65.

Health officials say people usually develop flu symptoms two to three days after they are exposed to the virus, but the day before symptoms develop is when they are most contagious.