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Health Officials Say Flu Infections Lessening

The death toll from the flu this season stands at 33 in San Diego County at the end of last week, with three people dying within that week.

The Health and Human Services Agency on Wednesday announced that three people died of the flu last week but the rate of infections seems to be slowing.

According to officials, the "flu season'' death toll in the county stood at 33 at the end of the week, the second-highest total on record.

The worst season in the county garnered 58 fatalities during the 2009-10 H1N1 pandemic.

All but one of the 33 who died this season had an underlying medical condition, the HHSA reported.

Agency officials said that 718 cases were diagnosed -- about 140 less than
the week before -- marking the second straight week of a declining total.

According to the county health agency, the total number of cases for flu
season in the region is 3,677.

"We've seen two weeks of steady declines in the number of lab-confirmed influenza cases and that is a good sign," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer.

"However, people should not become complacent. People should continue to take preventive measures to avoid getting sick, including getting vaccinated.''

Influenza is affecting the elderly much more this season, but pregnant
women, infants and people with chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or compromised immune systems are also at higher risk for complications.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended
that everyone 6 months and older who is not allergic get a flu vaccine every
year.

It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop after getting the shot, officials said.

Vaccine is available throughout San Diego County at doctors' offices and
retail pharmacies.

County public health centers have flu vaccine available for children and adults with no medical insurance.

Wooten said most people who become ill will not need medical attention
and should recuperate at home to avoid exposing others.

Individuals with underlying medical conditions and those with symptoms that do not improve or that worsen should seek medical attention from their doctors or urgent care providers, according to the HHSA. 

The agency advises flu patients not to go to hospitals so that emergency
departments don't become overwhelmed.

To avoid catching the flu, people should wash their hands thoroughly and
often, use hand sanitizers, stay away from sick people, avoid touching your
eyes, nose, and mouth and clean commonly touched surfaces, according to the
HHSA.

Those who get sick should stay home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and
avoid contact with others, health officials said.

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