SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Eight influenza patients died in San Diego County last week, bringing the total for "flu season" to 14, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported Wednesday.
In the week ending last Saturday, 503 cases of influenza were diagnosed, compared to 311 the previous week, according to the HHSA. In flu season as a whole, 1,179 people have come down with the illness.
The agency said that despite the recent spike, the numbers are in line with previous years. By comparison, 22 people died in the 2003-04 flu season.
Those who have died locally ranged in age from 46 to 92 years and all but one had an underlying medical condition, according to the HHSA.
"Influenza deaths are very unfortunate but not uncommon," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "Influenza can be a serious and, in some cases, deadly. That is why it is strongly recommended that people get the vaccine."
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every year unless they are allergic.
HHSA officials said the vaccine is safe and effective and there is still plenty vaccine available at many locations. It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop after getting vaccinated.
Vaccines will be offered on Thursday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., at the North Inland Public Health Center, 606 E. Valley Parkway.
The illness is especially dangerous for the elderly, pregnant women and young infants, as well as for people with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or a compromised immune system, according to the HHSA.
The agency recommended that people wash their hands thoroughly and often, use hand sanitizers, stay away from sick people, avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth and clean commonly touched surfaces.
Those who get sick should stay home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and avoid contact with others. If their symptoms worsen, they should visit their primary care physician or an urgent care clinic, Wooten said.