SAN DIEGO — The Centers for Disease Control recently said flu activity is high in 34 states including California. A spike in the number of cases nationwide happened right around the holiday season.
Flu season is in full swing in San Diego and local health officials have reported seeing more and more patients diagnosed with it. They said the number of cases nearly doubled in San Diego from last week to this week- nearly 750 to 1,400 - however, they said what is happening is considered normal.
“This is almost peak flu season, so we expect our numbers to be high this time of year,” said public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten.
She says what is happening in San Diego is also happening nationwide. Thirty-four states, as well as Washington, D.C., New York City and Puerto Rico have all been reporting high numbers.
Wooten said many factors contribute to that.
"During holidays people are closer together – family, friends - that is a contributing factor,” she said.
The numbers are also much higher this year in San Diego County compared to last year.
"Last year was a milder year. This season is on track to be what it was two years ago,” Wooten said.
So far this season, there have been 10 flu-related deaths in the county. The most recent were two 70-year-old men who had underlying medical conditions.
Wooten said the flu vaccine, however, is working.
"The vaccine is effective. It is not 100%. No vaccine we have is 100%,” she said.
In general, it is 40-60% effective.
Wooten said if you get the vaccine and you still get the flu, your symptoms will be less severe and you’re more likely to recover faster.
"The strain that’s circulating is influenza B,” said Wooten. “Typically, this time of year it’s influenza A. The key message is: it’s not too late to get your flu shot. We want people to be vaccinated.”
Wooten said flu season used to end in March, but it now can last as late as May.