East hospitals restrict patient visits because of increased flu numbers

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The county saw only four flu-related deaths this time past year.

The flu season is in full force in the Bay Area and local hospitals are admitting a large volume of patients with flu related symptoms. "The course of flu is unpredictable in both adults and children and it is hard to identify the stage of transmission with certainty", said Bakht Roshan, MD, Infectious Disease Specialist. "While vaccination offers the best protection we have against influenza, it's still possible that some people may become ill despite being vaccinated but their illness will be much milder".

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for all persons aged 6 months and older, with rare exception.

The CDC has also discovered that this year's strain of flu is "only somewhat covered by the vaccine that was given this year", Radke said. Adults can continue to spread the virus up to seven days, while children can spread it longer.

That brings the total cases of the flu this season to 384, 144 more since the last report.

"Influenza antiviral medications are a second line of defense against influenza but their use this flu season is more important than usual because of the circulating A (H3N2) strain".

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San Diego physicians are encouraging all residents to get a flu vaccination as a precaution.

Nationwide, nine children have died because of the flu through December 16.

County health officials said six more deaths were reported this week, as were 3,873 confirmed cases of the illness.

However, county officials stressed that "In reality, every year is a bad flu year for the people who get sick".

All anyone can do to protect themselves against this years fierce flu is to get vaccinated, cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands, get tested early, and stay home if they are sick.