County Confirms First Flu Death Of 2019/2020 Season
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Credit: Matt Hoffman/KPBS
Health officials Wednesday confirmed the first influenza-related death of the 2019/2020 flu season in San Diego County.
The county's Health and Human Services Agency reported that a 74-year- old Chula Vista man died Aug. 15 due to complications from Influenza B. The man, whose name was withheld, also had additional medical issues, according to county health officials.
The county tracks flu activity year-round during each flu season, which corresponds with the county's fiscal year from July 1 to June 30. Health officials didn't confirm the first flu death in each of the last two flu seasons until October.
"Influenza deaths can occur at any time since influenza circulates throughout the year," said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the county's interim deputy public health officer. "The elderly, pregnant women and those with underlying medical conditions are at higher risk of developing complications from influenza."
Since July 1, health officials have confirmed 106 flu cases throughout the county. At this time in the last two flu seasons, officials had confirmed just 26 cases in 2018 and 114 in 2017. The 2017/2018 flu season resulted in 342 flu-related deaths, the most since the county began tracking flu data nearly 20 years ago.
The season's flu vaccine will not be widely available around the county until September, according to local officials. Certain local pharmacies and health clinics may have the vaccine before then, however. Residents can check if the vaccine is available near them by searching their ZIP code at cdc.gov/flu/freeresources/flu-finder-widget.html.
County health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly advise the annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older, especially in demographics with a heightened risk of serious complications.
Residents can take precaution against contracting the virus by frequently washing their hands, cleaning commonly touched surfaces and avoiding contact with sick people.
"It's important to practice good hand hygiene and stay home if you are sick to avoid infecting others," Sidelinger said. "People should cover their mouth when causing and sneezing to prevent the spread of germs."
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