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SD County Records 9 More Flu Deaths, Bringing Number To 20 This Season

Microbiologist Anthony Aziz walks through the steps of testing a nasal swab f...

Photo by Tarryn Mento

Above: Microbiologist Anthony Aziz walks through the steps of testing a nasal swab for influenza at the San Diego County Public Health Laboratory, Sept. 26, 2019.

Nine influenza deaths were recorded in San Diego County last week, bringing the season's total to 20, the Health and Human Services Agency announced Wednesday.

The ages of the patients ranged from 45 to 88, and all had underlying medical conditions with the exception of a 57-year-old San Diego woman who died Jan. 3, according to the HHSA.

A total of 2,095 lab-confirmed influenza cases were confirmed last week, compared with 510 during the same span in 2019 and 2,152 in 2018.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, urged people to get vaccinations.

"Influenza deaths are very unfortunate, but they occur every season," she said. "It is never too late to get vaccinated since increased flu activity could last through May, and influenza viruses cause illness in San Diego year-round."

The total number of confirmed cases through Jan. 11 stands at 7,557, compared to 2,643 last year at this point. At this time last year, 16 influenza-related deaths had been confirmed.

County health officials and the U.S. 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, such as pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions like lung disease and people age 65 or older.

Residents can take precautions against contracting the virus by frequently washing their hands, cleaning commonly touched surfaces and avoiding contact with sick people.

The flu vaccine is available at local doctors' offices, retail pharmacies and the county's public health centers. A full list of locations offering flu shots can be found at the county's immunization website, sdiz.org, or by calling 211 for the county's health hotline.

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